film reel image

film reel image

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Paranoia 2013 * * Stars

ParanoiaDirector: Robert Luketic
Year: 2013
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman

Paranoia as a word, is defined as a thought process heavily dissuaded by a sense of fear and anxiety. If that's the case, then this movie definitely didn't harness that definition (it kinda tries though). A sense of boredom, familiarity, and gregarious slickness entered my mind while watching this rote thriller. If it went straight to DVD, I would have cut it a little slack. Unfortunately, a host of big name actors were attached to the project (Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Richard Dreyfuss to name a few) and that at least catapulted it to come out in the doldrums of August. Paranoia is a film that is similar to Runner Runner, which filtered its way into theaters a couple of months later. I recommended Runner Runner based on the fact that it managed to be somewhat appealing despite its shortcomings. With Paranoia, I wasn't so generous. In addition to trotting out a simulation of the Ben Affleck vehicle just mentioned, Paranoia also projects itself as a poor man's Wall Street (this thing comes close to Wall Street's vibe minus the technology) in which an impressionable young stud gets involved with the money hungry upper class (only to fall abate to a pool of deception). I gotta say this movie came off as not only a snore's fest, but a constant reminder that a ton of similar types of techno-thrillers confidently came before it. I don't know exactly why three big name stars would be attached to it, but I can decipher why it wasn't marketed very well. The movie falls flat on its feet by being technologically generic and incoherently glossy. I can't say that it's the worst film of the year because it tweaks out a little bit of passion. I will contend though, that star Liam Hemsworth should keep his distance when taking on roles like this. He'll end up being typecast as that dude from The Hunger Games and nothing else. Oh and did I mention that the movie added a love interest for him? Sadly, this is something that is forcefully included in pretty much every thriller these days. In essence, this flick felt like assembly line fodder so much that I thought I might go out to a factory instead of finishing it. I could otherwise see how peanut brittle was made. You know, just for the heck of it.

Directed by a guy who dabbles in romantic comedies and embarrassingly bad romantic thrillers (anyone see the dud Killers), Paranoia follows the character of Adam Cassidy (played with a hint of bland confidence by Liam Hemsworth). He's an inventor of some sorts and works for a corporation manned by a slimy Brit named Nicholas Wyatt (played by a slumming Gary Oldman). After being fired and re-hired for the same reason (Cassidy used the company credit card to buy his fellow colleagues drinks at a high end dance club), he then becomes blackmailed into stealing secrets from a separate corporate entity owned by Wyatt's mentor, Augustine "Jock" Goddard (Harrison Ford looking rather silly with his head shaven). If he doesn't go through with this low level bit of espionage, the people he works for, will soon go after his father Frank (played by Richard "I can't believe I'm doing movies like this" Dreyfuss). Added to that, he also meets and has a fling with someone from the workplace he is spying on. As Emma Jennings, the object of Cassidy's affection, Amber Heard barely registers a pulse and you sometimes forget that she is even in Paranoia. Her lines are muttered and she tends to fade in and out only to suggest that she is merely just the token love interest (as mentioned earlier, all thrillers for some reason, have to have this plot point embedded in their DNA).

Now for reasons sort of unknown, Paranoia has an Oscar winner and two Oscar nominees in its cast. The dialogue they trade doesn't come off as laughable. It does however, seem to be lifted from every script in Hollywood. You can tell at ad nausium when the actors speak.  And let's examine the word paranoia when applied as the title of this movie. The main character (Hemsworth) doesn't come off as exuding that characteristic by definition. What's also lacking is the feeling of him being in any real danger even though this vehicle suggests that he is. He obviously seems to be in control of the situations a lot more than the paperweight villains are (Gary Oldman's Nicholas Wyatt came off as rather soft, who knew).

In order to conclude this review, I can't help but mention the ending which lacks for excitement. When the prologue to this shiny lark comes, it's the equivalent of air being let out of someone's tires. Let's just say that Paranoia as a thriller, lapses into something that never quite picks up speed. As you watch it, you feel as if nothing is going on, or nothing is going to happen anytime soon. It feeds your technological psyche only to dumb it down considerably by constantly focusing on the aspect of the cell phone revolution (all the technological gadgetry featured in this exercise in general, seems altogether dated). If you fancy watching this on DVD, it couldn't really ruin your evening. But if you decide to take this thing seriously, you obviously have been living a sheltered life. Paranoia wastes the talent of its stars (maybe they needed the extra paycheck), glides by on a level of slick nothingness, and manages to dent the earnest career of one Liam Hemsworth. In a word, people don't want to pay $10 to view something they've already taken in many times over. Bottom line: see 2003's similar spy thriller The Recruit instead. It's not great, but it trumps this airy, misbegotten flop.

Written by Jesse Burleson

No comments:

Post a Comment