Paranoia (2013)

Info SidebarParanoia is based on a novel written by Joseph Finder. I have never read the novel but I shudder to consider its plot. If it’s anything like the plot of this movie, my biggest concern would be how it managed to be adapted into a film in the first place. There is not a strand of original hair here. Scene after scene is piled upon each other with nothing but Hollywood cliche holding them together. Which came first? The movie or the book?

Liam Hemsworth is the younger brother of Chris (Mr. Thor), and they look so much alike that I’m sure many viewers will confuse one for the other. Even their chiseled bodies seem to have been cast from the same mould. Perhaps the only feature separating them is Chris’ godlike baritone voice. In Paranoia, Liam plays Adam Cassidy, a cocky but bright software developer who dreams of living it big to escape the shadow of his father’s mundane and monotonous life. As an entry-level employee at Wyatt Mobile, he’s slightly unhappy, and at a board meeting with Wyatt’s head, Nicholas (Gary Oldman), he exercises his arrogance so expertly that he and his friends get fired. As retaliation, he decides to bring his friends out for a night on the town, using Wyatt’s money.

$16,000 on drinks. He gets caught. And now Nicholas demands a favour in return for Adam’s freedom. He is — and let me see if I got this right — blackmailed into somehow gaining employment as Nicholas’ rival’s executive developer in order to steal a prototype mobile phone that is forecasted to shake the foundations of the communications world. This rival, Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford), who was also Nicholas’ mentor at some point, runs the company called Eikon (say it out loud). He’s sort of a big shot.

What I don’t get is how Adam can suddenly join Eikon at such a high level. Didn’t he struggle to earn a simple promotion at Wyatt? How has he incredibly entered a different company, out of the blue, right into the most gorgeous office this side of civilisation? It is a throw-off. Some of these questions are answered at the end of the movie, where you can expect a perfunctory twist to take effect, but in terms of making the audience buy the events of this story, this employment is preposterously implausible.

And then there is an entire cavalcade of cheesy, routine, and irritating moments. If the plot seems to have been stolen wholesale from other caper films, the dialogue is the getaway car. It is copied word for word from movies that made lines like “Everything you ever told me was a lie” popular. Yes, that line does make a cameo in this film, and yes, it does involve a girl finding out that the boy she’s quickly fallen head over heels for isn’t who he claims to be.

Everything about this movie is weak. What is director Robert Luketic — and Joseph Finder by extension — trying to say? What is the message behind the espionage and secrecy? I get the sense that Finder seeks to bury a theme within the walls of his text, much like Suzanne Collins did with her “Hunger Games” books. But whatever theme he was trying to incorporate is lost amidst all the gratuitous shots of a topless Hemsworth, the silly romance, and the infantile rivalry between two men who are played by actors whose talents rise high above the level of their performances. There is also a role for Julian McMahon, who plays the part of the bad guy so well. He does the same here, but his character is utterly pointless. So pointless in fact that I find mentioning his stock words and stock purpose to be equally pointless.

But you don’t even need to look so deep to find fault with this movie. You know you’ve got something unorthodox when your score composer is someone proud enough to be called Junkie XL.


Best Moment | I love Gary Oldman.

Worst Moment | Oh, so many. All of it in fact. Adam meeting Amber Heard’s character in the club was cringeworthy enough.

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