Friday, August 16, 2013

Movie with Abe: Paranoia

Directed by Robert Luketic
Released August 16, 2013

A film’s title is not always the best indicator of its subject matter. Many might assume that “Paranoia” is a fear-filled horror movie, whereas, in reality, it’s merely a dramatic thriller about warring tech companies and their battle to build the ultimate cell phone, with one bright young man caught in the middle. A different genre and different expectations hardly guarantee a great film, and this turns out just to be a run-of-the-mill summer flick with good actors indulging in underdeveloped roles in a movie that isn’t nearly as clever or innovative as it wants to be.

Director Robert Luketic has a short resume that begins with better-than-average romantic comedies “Legally Blonde” and “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!” More recently, he forayed into somewhat more dramatic territory with “21” and into action with “Killers,” but this is his first full-on drama. At the center of “Paranoia” is Australian actor Liam Hemsworth, who starred in “The Hunger Games” and whose older brother Chris Hemsworth is enjoying an extremely fruitful movie career. Mentoring Hemsworth’s up-and-coming techie are two screen legends who had the opportunity to face off in the unforgettable “Air Force One,” Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford. This adds up to an odd but potentially productive recipe for a fun thriller.

From its first moments, which show Adam (Hemsworth) running aimlessly from an unknown figure, it is painfully clear that, while this film tries to be on the cutting edge of technology, its plot is far less advanced. An overconfident presentation gets Adam and his friends fired by company CEO Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman). When he makes the mistake of charging over $16,000 at a bar to his mysteriously still active discretionary credit card, Adam owes Wyatt, who tasks him with infiltrating the brain trust of his former mentor and sworn enemy, Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford). What ensues should take a familiar moviegoer moments to deduce, and is no more satisfying that it sounds on paper.

Hemsworth, like his brother, definitely has a star quality that will hopefully be put to better use in more sophisticated films. Oldman and Ford are phoning in their performances, and the same can be said of the diverse cast that supports them, including Richard Dreyfuss, Embeth Davidtz, Josh Holloway, and especially Julian McMahon. This is simply an average film, and to see such talent present with no payoff is a true disappointment.


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