Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Amber Heard, Embeth Davidtz
Barry Levy, Jason Dean Hall, Joseph Finder (Novel)
"Paranoia" Isn't Paranoid Enough
After doing his best work in years in early 2013's Jackie Robinson biopic 42, Harrison Ford returns to mediocrity in this big business thriller that stars Liam Hemsworth (Hunger Games) as Adam, a corporate flunkie determined to create a better life for his emphysema-ridden father (Richard Dreyfuss) but seemingly unable to do so while stuck in a cubicle. When he gets canned and enjoys a bit of a financial binge courtesy of a company credit card, he finds himself face-to-face with the company's CEO (Gary Oldman) and offered the opportuntiy to live up to his dreams in exchange for a certain information acquisition from a longtime corporate rival helmed by Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford). Just to make sure there's enough T&A action in the film, Amber Heard shows up as the rival firm's marketing chief and a former one-night stand of Adam's.
If you don't see where this is going right now, then the film may very well be perfect for you.
Paranoia is the kind of film where the lesser of all evils is destined to win, but before that can happen we're going to be put through more than a few cliche'd scenarios and scene-chewing histrionics. Gary Oldman is hilariously over-the-top with Cockney accent and all, while Harrison Ford pretty much makes us forget all his wonderful nuances portrayed in playing Branch Rickey earlier in the year. To his credit, however, Ford seems to be the only one in on the joke. Hemsworth certainly has a strong screen presence, but his performance is mostly style over substance that fails to convince. Embeth Davidtz is likely the most impressive of the bunch as a behavioral psychologist hired to groom Adam for his task at hand.
Directed by Robert Luketic, who also gave us the glossy and shiny 21, Paranoia is predictable in its paranoia and for the most part ineffective in developing anything resembling suspense or thrills.
Based upon a nine-year-old novel from Joseph Finder, the biggest problem with Paranoia is that it simply feels too antiquated to actually elicit anything resembling an audience response. The film has a few pleasing moments, particularly those between Ford and Hemsworth, but for the most part Paranoia plays it remarkably safe.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic