Posted August 17, 2013 by in


Total Score

1/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: thriller
Director: Robert Luketic
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Actors: Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Amber Heard
Length: 115 minutes
Release Date: 8/16/2013
Studio: Gaumont, Demarest Films, EMJAG Productions, IM Global, Kintop Pictures, Reliance Entertainment
What We Thought

A bad, boring, forgettable movie that’s 99% paranoia-free, and I’m not sure about that 1%.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
There is more to a movie’s title than how good or bad it sounds.  Just as important is how accurately it describes what the movie is about.  The Conjuring sounds good, but it’s a horrible title for last month’s supernatural thriller, given that no one actually conjures anything.  Paranoia has exactly one scene of its hero exhibiting paranoia.  I guess it’s better than no scenes of paranoia, but the title alone creates disappointment.
     A bad title doesn’t mean a bad movie, but it’s not a good sign.  Now, bad dialog by itself doesn’t mean a bad movie either, but it contributes.  But bad dialog, poor casting, and a nonsensical plot collectively create a bad movie.  A bad, boring, forgettable movie called Paranoia that’s 99% paranoia-free, and I’m not sure about that 1%.
     Paranoia begins with its supposedly smart hero doing something really stupid.  Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) gets himself and his team of entry level employees fired from Wyatt Industries when he mouths off to its founder Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) at a pitch meeting.  That’s not the stupid part.  Adam then takes his now jobless friends out for drinks at a dance club, and runs up a $16,000 bill on the company’s credit card, figuring What’s Wyatt gonna do, fire him?
     No, he can’t do that.  But he can have him arrested and thrown in jail on a credit card fraud charge.  However, Wyatt offers him a deal:  get hired on at rival telecom company Eikon as part of a corporate espionage plan, and he’ll forgive Adam his debt and reward him handsomely to boot.
     Adam lands the job, and who should work there but Emma Jennings (Amber Heard), the woman he hooked up with earlier at the dance club.  Adam wows Eikon founder Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford) when he repurposes a 3D GPS project called “Type X” for military use, earning the entrepreneur’s trust.  Bedding Emma, a higher up in the firm, also gives Adam further access to the company’s secret project:  the Occuron.
     It doesn’t matter what the Occuron does, it’s what Hitchcock would have called a “MacGuffin”.  On the other hand,  Paranoia build ups Type X’s 3D GPS capabilities, but it’s never actually used in the story—as it needs to be—when it easily could have been in one of the film’s chase scenes.
     Speaking of chase scenes, Miles Meechum (Julian McMahon), Adam’s handler, runs after Adam for reasons that aren’t clear.  Also unclear is why Wyatt has several of his own employees murdered.
     Spoiler here, but I’ll hint at it:  there’s a significant plot twist late in the film that should come as no surprise to Adam, considering his access to information.
     The climax includes lines like, “You’ll never get away with this,” and “You’ll pay for this.”  Here’s an idea for an app:  a program that runs through all of a film’s script, and checks each line against a file containing all known clichéd dialog.   An advanced program would rewrite predictable exchanges, like this:
     “Have I ever told you you were right?”
     “About what?”
     Paranoia is a talky thriller with no facility with dialog.
     Amber Heard is a decent actress, but she and Hemsworth have little chemistry together, and Ford isn’t trying too hard himself.  One of the film’s heavies is miscast, and Hemsworth doesn’t have the everyman quality the role needs, looking like he was born into the upper echelon of society that his character sells his soul to get into.
     Paranoia‘s story itself is fine, potentially Hitchcockian, but it falters in the execution.  Hitchcock made great thrillers that were also great romances, but here, the love interest is playing hard-to-get after having already given it up—after a night of anonymous sex, no less.  The thrill of the hunt is diminished when chasing what’s already been gotten.
     As for the film’s single instance of paranoia, there’s a moment where Adam looks around anxiously, and the camera pans after a passing black car.  In the same moment, a cop eyes Adam suspiciously.  Consider that it’s not paranoia if people are actually out to get you, so Adam isn’t wrong in looking for hidden dangers when Wyatt’s henchmen threaten to hurt him and his friends.  Correction:  Paranoia is film without any paranoia in it at all.  Even so, a bad title is the least of this film’s problems.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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