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"PARANOIA"
(2013) (Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Thriller: A young executive becomes involved in a corporate espionage plot in which one tech mogul attempts to steal a prototype cell-phone design from another.
PLOT:
Adam Cassidy (LIAM HEMSWORTH) dreams of great wealth and being a mogul in the world of new and emerging technology. He doesn't want to be like his blue-collar dad (RICHARD DREYFUSS) who worked in a dead-end job all of his life and never got ahead. He gets his big chance to pitch a new cell-phone software technology to tech mogul Nicolas Wyatt (GARY OLDMAN). But the billionaire is not interested, and Adam and his team - including programming whiz Kevin (LUCAS TILL) and software expert Allison (ANGELA SARAFYAN) -- lose their jobs and funding. Frustrated and depressed, Adam runs up a big credit card bill using Wyatt Corp.'s discretionary fund.

Wyatt gets wind of this little escapade and uses it and Cassidy's drive to succeed to strong-arm him into infiltrating the company of his chief rival, Jock Goddard (HARRISON FORD). Adam's mission is to steal a prototype cell phone that will turn around the fortunes of Wyatt's company and once again make him the toast of the technology world. Wyatt's enigmatic assistant, Judith (EMBETH DAVIDTZ), is assigned to make sure Adam looks and acts the part. And his henchman, Miles (JULIAN McMAHON), is deployed to make sure he doesn't step out of line.

Adam, though, falls for one of Goddard's top marketing professionals, Emma (AMBER HEARD), a woman with whom he had recently had a one-night stand. He is also pressured by FBI Agent Gamble (JOSH HOLLOWAY), who shows him proof that previous corporate patsies of Wyatt's have ended up dead when they no longer served any purpose to him. Paranoia indeed sets in when Adam realizes he is being watched at all times and when the lives of his friends and father are threatened.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
The new corporate espionage flick "Paranoia" is one of the most unintentionally funny movies I've seen in quite some time. In fact, I chuckled more during this inane, woefully misdirected thriller than I have at most comedies this past year.

It's a movie that preaches against the trappings of wealth and power and material possessions, all the while the camera practically dry-humps the various characters' sports cars, slick clothes, million-dollar condos, and expensive wines. It's a movie that aims to be sharp, intelligent, and a sobering commentary on class warfare and income disparity. And it's packaged in a screenplay that finds ways to get hunky leading man Liam Hemsworth shirtless at least six times in the first 45 minutes. It's a movie in which corporate pitch meetings are set up that last all of 30 seconds and either end in "You're fired! Get out of my sight!" or "That's brilliant! This idea will change the world!"

Man, is this a bad movie! But it's one of those "good" bad movies in the sense that the people who made it really thought they were churning out a "Wall Street" or "Boiler Room" for the post-recession era. Hemsworth indeed stars as Adam, a young hotshot executive who flames out when he tries to pitch tech mogul Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) a new cell-phone software program. So, he takes the corporate credit card his research team was given that taps directly into Wyatt Corp.'s discretionary fund and runs up a $16,000 bar bill. He also picks up Amber Heard's Emma in the same bar, because hot, young Yale graduates who make six figures and are eager for one-night stands can always be found dancing alone in Gotham watering holes.

The next day, Adam is summoned to Dracula -- er, Wyatt's home, and the billionaire tells him that if he doesn't go to work for his rival, Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford, making the most stunningly bad hair choice since "Presumed Innocent"), and steal his new prototype cell phone, he will turn him and his illegal bar bill into the authorities. What follows is a truly ridiculous sequence in which Adam is spirited off to Wyatt's suburban mansion ostensibly to be trained on how to infiltrate Goddard's company. But all he really does for the weekend is swim, shower, and get fitted for new clothes.

The film then proceeds in ways so lame that I really just had to guffaw throughout. Case in point, Adam has 72 hours to develop a device that will wow Goddard in a pitch meeting. He has a basic idea, but he goes to his out-of-work programmer friend, Kevin (Lucas Till), for help. In a matter of seconds, Kev comes up with an innovation that ends up being worth potentially millions of dollars to the U.S. Department of Defense. Adam then basically says, "Thanks, bro" -- and walks out the door with it!

Hemsworth, by the way, is completely bland in the lead role. He has all the presence of one of the lesser Baldwin brothers circa the early 1990s. And not only that, but we're asked to believe that this himbo - this glorified male model - is somehow the spawn of -- Richard Dreyfuss! And as for Hemsworth and Amber Heard, yikes, I've seen male and female department-store mannequins positioned just so at Macy's with more romantic chemistry. It doesn't help that Heard channels Kristen Stewart in this film, adopting a dull-eyed, monotone demeanor in which a smile seems like great effort.

The only delights to be had are the two scenes in which the former "Air Force One" stars Ford and Oldman are reunited and get to go toe-to-toe once again. No, Ford doesn't get a chance to bellow, "Get off my private plane!" But this is where the meat of the film SHOULD have been. These are the characters you want to follow when they exit scenes. You don't get two A-list stars the caliber of Jack Ryan and Sirius Black and relegate them to distant supporting status. That's crazy.

But director Robert Luketic just has no feel for this kind of film. He has no idea how to ratchet up tension. Every now and then, he remembers that his flick is indeed called "Paranoia" and he laughably has Hemsworth looking over his shoulder or casting a wary eye at random strangers or bristling at his ringing cell phone. And when Luketic gets stuck trying to transition a scene, he gives us repeated camera pans and flyovers of the New York skyline. Ugh. What a waste. I give this one a 3 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed August 15, 2013 / Posted August 16, 2013


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