BY: DIGITAL SHORTBREAD
Release: Thursday, August 15, 2013
I’d like to plead the fifth to any questions raised concerning whether I just went to see this for Amber Heard. I mean, come on guys. It’s also got Liam Hemsworth in it — you know, that strapping gentleman from The Hunger Games, real-life brother of Thor, hello? And this movie also features huge A-listers in Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman. Why anyone would ask me whether she was the reason I saw Paranoia is actually pretty logical, though. There are scant reasons other than her to see this. To be delicate, this movie leaves only nine other spots on a theoretical list I’m making of the Ten Worst Films I’ve Ever Seen. The script for this supposed crime-drama is that bad, it really is.
As always, I got ahead of myself and checked the status of the upcoming movie on Rotten Tomatoes before going in and what I saw really shocked me. As limited as the marketing was backing up Luketic’s new project, the trailers had me believing we would be getting a cool new action thriller. Oldman in another sinister role, awesome. How the film would qualify for my “list of ten worst films” considering the disappointing little you get from a cast as good as this. It is stunning how terrible the dialogue is for much of the movie, and a lot of the time the plot doesn’t make sense. While there are moments that invite your eyes to widen a little bit as if you’re ready to change facial expressions, the vast majority of Paranoia is utterly, utterly flat and boring.
(I’m actually patting myself on the back for not walking out on this.)
But yet, there was some. . .quality to this film remaining that managed to keep me there, along with, I guess, the other six people who were in my theater. Despite director Robert Luketic’s seeming incompetence to provide anything but cliches to fill the time, the presence of Oldman, Ford and to a lesser degree, Hemsworth, were a bit compelling.
Some semblance of a plot is as follows:
Adam Cassidy (Hemsworth) is a bright, hard-working 27-year old fighting in the corporate world to get ahead and earn a job that will finally pay him his dues. His status and work ethic suggest advancement but his boss, the insufferable Nick Wyatt (Oldman), insists he’s nothing special. He proves it by firing him along with his team of brainiac friends after a presentation Adam was giving failed to impress a distracted Mr. Wyatt. Adam then takes his friends out for drinks as an apology for his pushiness which led to their firings, but he also uses the leftover allowance on his corporate credit card to pay for the night. Win-win, or so he thinks.
Wyatt bargains with him when he discovers $16k has been spent the night of his dismissal, and during one of the only good scenes in this entire yawn-a-thon, Oldman’s menacing temperament is shown. He tells Adam he is going to work for his rival company — Eikon, run by his former partner, Jock Goddard (Ford) — and gain valuable inside information for Wyatt’s personal gain. Even if the plot is unremarkable in that regard, there wasn’t much of a chance to enjoy the development since Luketic insisted the movie be dumbed down as possible.
It was like a spelling bee First Round, where the words are very easy and simple and everyone gets it correctly — that’s how this script passed by editors, got approval. Inexplicably, the likes of Ford, Oldman and Hemsworth, and even Amber Heard as the potential love interest for Adam, a very on-again/off-again Emma Jennings, who didn’t have much to say but what she did have to say was utterly bland — all these people agreed to what they read! It is tough to understand unless you watch this, but that’s a thing that I absolutely insist you do not do.
As Adam receives a “make-over” of sorts from a couple of Wyatt’s corporate malefactors, Dr. Bolton (Embeth Davidtz) and “Meechum” (Julian McMahon) — this is an attempt to integrate Adam into the image that would attract Eikon to hire him which really is mostly just unbelievable — he is erstwhile attempting to look more divided about the situation he is in. Hemsworth does his best in expressing it, but his character is a dumb dog following its commands. In moments he’s meant to be expressing his *ehem* paranoia . . . he ends up just looking confused or annoyed. Not his fault, though. There’s really nothing to react to most of the time.
The plan is to get a hold of an advanced phone technology being developed by the genius but selfish Goddard, and Wyatt uses Adam to physically steal the next-level device from its heavily-protected chamber on the 38th floor of the building. Yes, all that familiar rigamarole. Insisting Adam’s services have been sufficiently provided and that he will not continue doing his former boss’ dirty work, he tells Wyatt that he’s done, he’s out. Unfortunately, more bad movie ensues.
Half-heartedly acted, poorly edited and with simply nothing at all to distinguish itself from the ranks of other crime-drama thrillers revolving around technological one-upmanship, Paranoia is a kick to the stomach thinking about the wasted potential. Perhaps there were things going on behind the scenes that contributed to the film’s rather hushed promotion and subsequent release, and which may explain possible on-set awkwardness that allowed the film to come out as clumsy as it has. Mere speculation on my part, but I just hope there’s something else besides Luketic simply producing a complete and total misfire here.
Recommendation: Stay away. A complete let-down, even for me as I sat down thinking how much fun this is going to be to try and defy the odds of it being grossly under appreciated in the initial reviews. Even with fake expectations, I came out still. . . disappointed.
Running Time: 106 mins.