By Dan Metcalf
Clipper Film Correspondent
Paranoia (Relativity Media)
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality, violence and language.
Starring Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman, Amber Heard, Harrison Ford, Lucas Till, Embeth Davidtz, Julian McMahon, Josh Holloway, Richard Dreyfuss, Angela Sarafyan, William Peltz, Kevin Kilner.
Written by Jason Dean Hall and Barry Levy, based on the novel by Joseph Finder.
Directed by Robert Luketic.
It's funny that as time goes by, acceptable movie villains have changed. It used to be easy pickings in war movies (mostly based on WWII), when the Japanese or Nazis were easy targets. As other movie genres evolved, so did their villains. It was once commonplace to use communists as the bad guys, then Muslim terrorists. In the current decade, the new all-purpose super-villain is the (cue creepy music here) “EEEvil” corporate wealthy. Such are the antagonists in the new film Paranoia, starring Liam Hemsworth as a working stiff caught in the middle of a battle of wits between corporate rivals.
Hemsworth plays Andy, a tech wonder boy trying to catch a break at a mobile communications company in New York City. After a pitch before the corporate owner Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) goes south, Andy and his pals are all fired. The next day, Wyatt has Andy brought back to the company HQ with an offer to spy on his rival and former mentor Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford), who is about to launch a new cell phone that will revolutionize the tech world.
Andy agrees and soon finds himself working for Goddard where he falls in love with his new fellow employee Emma (Amber Heard). He also discovers that Wyatt has surveillance in every part of his life, including the home he shares with his ailing father (Richard Dreyfuss). When Andy balks at following through, Wyatt threatens his life, along with his friends and family. Andy reconsiders and uses Emma's security clearance to gain access to Goddard's new cell phone, tucked away inside a vault. Andy must decide how to make things right with his friends, his dad and Emma – without getting killed.
I suppose Paranoia falls into the “corporate thriller” category, although the thrills are few and far between. There is drama and intensity, but nothing you won't soon forget, since Paranoia one of those movies that is entirely forgettable. Hemsworth is serviceable as a leading man, but not even the star presence of Harrison Ford or the acting prowess of Gary Oldman can save Paranoia from the heap of similar movies with similar endings. Yeah, I get it...it's open season on the corporate wealthy; the new “black hats” who twirl their mustaches with snarling grins while chuckling with glee over the trampling of little people as they sit on piles of cash. All that corporate hate is ironic, since the people who funded Paranoia are mostly corporate folk, who are hoping to make a buck off the general public in a capitalistic world. Paranoia also gets my 2013 award for “most blatant product placement,” as viewers are sure to see lots and lots and lots of Apple devices (apparently NOT an evil corporation, according to the producers), along with Pepsi, Fisker, Chevrolet and others.
So, Paranoia might get a few ladies excited over seeing Liam Hemsworth with his shirt off, but everybody else would be hard-pressed to remember a single thing about the movie a few weeks after seeing it. I certainly won't be looking over my shoulder for it.