A Slick, Glossy Misfire
By Skip Sheffield
Australian actor Liam Hemsworth is one heck of a handsome guy. The younger brother of the equally hunky Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) has a bit to go on his acting expertise.
Hemsworth is the young star of “Paranoia,” paired with old pros Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman under the direction of fellow Australian Robert Luketic (“Killers”).
Screenwriter Jason Dean Hall’s story is a high-tech thriller set in
Manhattan and Brooklyn
which becomes an increasingly murky and hard-to-follow labyrinth of intrigue,
fake-out and double-cross.
Harrison Ford is Jock Goddard, once partners with Nicolas Wyatt, played by smooth but menacing Brit Gary Oldman. The two men had a falling out, and Wyatt, who was the creative brains of a technological giant called Eikon, was forced out by Goddard. Wyatt rebounded to found his own company, for which Adam Cassidy is a young development guy.
As we meet Adam he is preparing to present his revolutionary new mobile device to the Wyatt board of directors.
Adam is cruelly crushed and mocked by Wyatt, and in foolish retaliation Adam takes his crew out on a $16,000 night on the town on his company credit card.
It comes as no surprise Adam and his colleagues are fired when the transgression is discovered. However, Wyatt sees something in Adam Cassidy he likes. Adam is a “bridge and tunnel” guy who lives in
Brooklyn with his ailing dad. Wyatt feels a kinship with
the brash blue-collar striver, and he detects an ingenuity and fearlessness
that could make him a good corporate spy.
“What if I told you I could get you rich and get back your friends’ jobs?,” Wyatt asks in his penthouse office suite.
Coached by corporate psychologist Dr. Judith Bolton (Embeth Davidtz), Adam is told to gain the trust of Jock Goddard by taking a position in his company and finding a way to steal new development plans. Adam is set up with $500,000, a dream apartment, expensive car and tailored suits.
Adam is surprised to find that Eikon’s pretty public relations director Emma Jennings (Amber Heard) is the same woman who put him down after he had a one-night fling with her.
So the web is spun, but like all webs it is sticky. Everybody is spying on everybody else, and there is a third party; namely the FBI, tracking the corporate shenanigans.
Harrison Ford’s hair is close-cropped in convict fashion and he wears large horn-rimmed glasses, perhaps to make him look more menacing. It does not really succeed, because Ford’s heart does not seem in his role, nor for that matter is Oldman’s. Hemsworth just never comes off as a native genius, and Amber Heard does not seem cut out to be a cutthroat corporate type.
All are betrayed by a script that goes all gooey by the finish. For such an impressive cast, “Paranoia” is at best a glossy, glittering, high-tech misfire.