Corporate espionage is always an interesting topic. You’ve got insider trading and spying on the enemy as well. When rival companies are competing for one top spot, things may get ugly. Morals are thrown to the wayside and the hidden claws come out. How far would you go to learn your enemy’s biggest secrets? Is it worth all the trouble that it takes to learn these secrets? Your only options are do or die, so perhaps the idea of stealing seems appealing. Usually, however, stealing winds you up in jail, where you’ll live a sad and moneyless life.
Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) is just your average, everyday visionary who sees the world through a different lens. He and his buddy Kevin (Lucas Till) work for Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) as entry level employees. One day, they lose a pitch and decide to blow the project’s funding on a wild night. When Wyatt calls Adam in, he gives him two options. He can either go to jail, or he can go to work for rival company, Eikon. Reluctantly, Adam agrees and begins a transformative process to become a new, successful businessman.
Fueled by ambition and the want to succeed, Adam tries his best to impress Eikon owner Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford), a longtime friend and now rival of Wyatt. As Adam gets cozier in the company, he starts up a relationship with Emma Jennings (Amber Heard), the beautiful and intelligent woman who holds the keys to what he wants. When Adam discovers that he’s being watched by both companies and the FBI, paranoia sets in and Adam is left with moral decisions that will come to determine his own fate.
Paranoia is one of the worst reviewed films of 2013 on Rotten Tomatoes, and I don’t think it’s that bad (especially with the likes of Getaway this year). However, it’s not a great movie and it has a ton of issues. It tries to play angles of suspense and add in twists and turns and the result is a dull experience that leaves you severely unsatisfied. With tech-savvy characters who add zero emotional depth, this film is kind of a mess. Throw in two older men who seem out of place and out of touch, in addition to a script that gives them little to work with, and the film almost becomes unbearable.
Acting veterans Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman have established themselves as some of Hollywood’s bests. They always give it their all in their performances, well, except in the case of this film. Ford manages to mumble his way through the film, while Oldman shouts and panics his way through. Their supposed rivalry doesn’t seem believable and their interactions are dull and unconvincing. Generally, they just stand around and spout off why their company is the best and how they will change the world.
Of the younger faces, Hemsworth shines as the lead. This is not his best work, but he’s dedicated enough and appears to have fun. His character’s beliefs are sound and his ideas are actually quite smart. Heard, being the love interest, lays some seductive and reclusive groundwork at the beginning of the film, and then does a 180 with her character. She isn’t given too much depth and we lose interest in her character and focus more on her beauty. The oddest addition to this film is a long haired Till, whose brainy character is only seeking a job and a girlfriend. He feels so out of place and his character is just a pawn, saved for the final act.
As far as the screenplay is concerned, there are some very interesting ideas and some great lines. The focus of both tech companies is to create a mobile device that will revolutionize the way we interact and share information. Having one device that holds all your information for everyone else certainly poses some intriguing ideas. The ideals and beliefs behind the mobile device will make you think and seeing future technology is always fun. There’s also the idea that everyone is watching and listening to you, as evidenced by the cameras and wire taps that we have today. As Ford said in the film, “privacy is dead.”
Director Robert Luketic has a very interesting resume to his name. His prior films are full of female heavy films (Legally Blonde, Monster-In-Law, The Ugly Truth, Killers) and the lackluster 21. Most of his films try to add a layer of some suspense and utterly fail at doing so. With Paranoia, the suspense works for a bit, but then things just become silly. The psychological state of Hemsworth’s character changes rapidly and unexpectedly and none of it makes much sense. The idea for this film is fun and it could have worked better, had the cheesy dialog and direction been cut out.
Paranoia doesn’t deserve its 4% Critic Rating, but that’s not too far from what it actually deserves. For what the film is, it’s not too much fun and it doesn’t leave you feeling any specific way. For myself, it was a little over and hour-and-a-half of people talking, suspenseful music, and unoriginal plot twists. The acting isn’t believable and no one seems to be having much fun, which makes things less fun for the viewer. Despite being billed as a thriller, Paranoia is anything but. The only thrilling thing about this film is when the credits roll and you can return to your life.