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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Paranoia | Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford, Liam Hemsworth, Richard Dreyfuss, Amber Heard, Embeth Davitz | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn

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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE

 

Paranoia

Ambition, power, greed and the haves versus the have nots, are elements that come into play in Paranoia, a corporate thriller set in and around the present day world of mobile technology.  Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford portray feuding moguls, but the central focus is on Liam Hemsworth as the main character who is drawn into a deadly game of corporate espionage.

In his first role as a leading man, Aussie hunk Hemsworth (Chris' young brother, from The Hunger Games) stars as Adam Cassidy, a young and ambitious tech wiz who lives in Brooklyn with his sickly dad (Richard Dreyfuss) whom he supports working for Nicholas Wyatt (Oldman), the billionaire head of Wyatt Corporation, a leader in cell phone technology. Adam doesn't want to wind up like his dad, who worked for 30 years in a dead end job as a security guard, and so he is determined to become successful and live the life of the financially secure elite.

With hopes of advancing his career and moving up in the firm,  Adam makes a pitch about his tech idea to his boss. But, instead of making an impression, his plan backfires, pissing off his boss that results in Adam and his team getting fired. Then, in a stupid move, Adam and his co-workers go partying on the town to the cost of $16,000, which he charges to his former company's credit card.  With the threat of turning him over to authorities for prosecution, the ruthless Wyatt blackmails Adam by forcing him to infiltrate Eicon, a rival firm run by his former mentor, turned hated competitor, Jock Goddard (a shaven headed Harrison Ford) in order to steal his secret plans for a revolutionary new cell phone.  By agreeing to go inside and get what Wyatt wants, $500,000 would be deposited and waiting for Adam in an escrow account. That money would surely come in handy, especially at this time when Adam is strapped with his father's $40,000 medical bill due to inadequate health insurance coverage.

In order to set Wyatt's plan into action, his right hand woman, Judith (Embeth Davitz) must first groom Adam to look and act the part of a slick executive which includes several shiny amenities such as being fitted with a new, high priced wardrobe, set up in a luxurious loft apartment, and given an expensive sports car. Most importantly, convincing Goddard and gaining his trust is the key.  "Trust is the Holy Grail of espionage!" Judith tells Adam.

In a case of be careful what you wish for, this dream come true of upper class wealth comes at a cost, and eventually Adam realizes he is in way over his head and that his life and the lives of those close to him are at stake as surveillance cameras constantly watch his every move and location.

Of course, there has to be a potential love interest to stir up the pot. Amber Heard fits the bill as Emma Jennings, the beautiful woman Adam meets during his party on the town, subsequently has a one night stand with, and soon discovers she just happens to be the marketing director for Eicon. How convenient and so unlikely.

Also featured in supporting roles are Julian McMahon (star of the cable TVs Nick/Tuck) as Meechum, Wyatt's gun toting henchman, Lucas Till (Stoker, X Men- First Class) as Adam's nerdy looking buddy and former co-worker, and Josh Holloway (of TV's Lost) as an FBI agent investigating criminal activities.

The best scenes and the most fun to watch are those between veteran actors Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman in which they verbally go at each other.  It is on screen reunion for the stars who worked together on Air Force One when Ford portrayed the President and Oldman was the villain.  As for up and comer Liam Hemsworth, I have to give him credit for holding his own against the old pros.

The story is not original, the premise implausible, and there are some plot flaws and contrivances. For example, it makes it appear too easy to infiltrate the heavily guarded company security. There is also the ridiculous notion that the smart and savvy  Emma would be so careless as to allow Adam to have easy access to her ID and passwords to get into her computer files.

Yet, director Robert Luketic (21, Killers, The Ugly Truth), working from a screenplay by James Dean Hall and Barry Levy based on the novel by Joseph Finder, delivers a fair amount of intrigue and suspense to keep my interest.

Paranoia is not a great movie, and its title isn't really fitting.  But, with its twists and turns, I found it entertaining enough to recommend it as worthy piece of summer movie escapism.

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