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Friday, October 18, 2013


Guess what this one's about? No, really.

Also at Channel 24

What it's about

After making copious use of the company credit card after being laid off from his job at a major tech company, Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) is given a second chance by his old boss, Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) – all he has to do is spy on a rival company, run by Wyatt's old boss and mentor, Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford). It's not long, however, before he finds himself the pawn in a game where the ruthless primary players are playing on a whole other level.

What we thought

Paranoia is yet another generic thriller with an utterly forgettable one-word title that is perhaps even less memorable and impressive than its title suggests. It's especially impressive that a film with a couple of really fun supporting performances from Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfus and Gary Oldman makes next to no lasting impression whatsoever. In fact, when I saw “Paranoia” on the release schedule, I had to head straight over to the good ol' IMDB just to remind myself of what the hell it was – and I had only seen it a few weeks back.

Paranoia is also, it has to be said, the biggest bomb of Harrison Ford's illustrious career as it hasn't even made back a fifth of its rather modest $35 million budget. To be fair though, though it's certainly somewhere on the bottom rungs of his career, perhaps even right at the bottom, it's not that bad a movie. It's not in any way, shape or form “good”, not by a very long shot, but there isn't that much about it that's actively terrible. Of course, it might have been more interesting if it was.

The film is simply blah, in a way that's not a hundred miles away from the other big blah release of the week, Diana. Unlike Diana, it does admittedly at least feature a bunch of veteran actors who are clearly having a quite contagious good time, but everything around them is so dull and uninspired that even they can't rise above the overall dreariness of the film.

The plot, for example, may be trying to be “up to the minute” and “topical” but it still feels very old hat. But then, themes of corporate greed and technological ingenuity are not exactly new and it constantly recalls far better films, be it old semi-classics like Wall Street or new and surprisingly good fare like Arbitrage. And while it is decently put together, Robert Luketic's (The Killers, Legally Blond) direction has none of the zip or the style needed to elevate the crustiness of the story.

For a thriller, its also not particularly thrilling and even if you don't happen to see all its twists coming that probably has more to do with the lack of engagement with either the story or the characters in it. Both Liam Hemsworth and Amber Heard have come under fire for turning in some pretty terrible performances - and they really aren't great as the two young leads of the piece – but in their defence they really don't have much to work with here. Heard gets especially short changed with a role that plays up her good looks, but plays down absolutely everybody else. Hemsworth may have a bit more to do, but his character is basically a Diet Coke (sorry, sorry, Coke Light) version of Charlie Sheen's lead protagonist in Wall Street.

In fact, in many ways this is a seriously dumbed down version of Wall Street, without any of that film's edge or witty satire. I've never been the biggest fan of Wall Street but after this Greed is Good ripoff (now with extra smart phones!), it ends up looking both far smarter and far more emotionally resonant than I might have initially given it credit for. And that Paranoia has a lot more running does as much to distinguish it from Wall Street as it does to make it, oh I don't know, Crank 2 or something.

In the same way that you would be nuts to see Diana when a truly great romance film like Enough Said is released on the same day, it's the nail-biting Gravity that is clearly the thriller to see this week rather than the dull and plodding thriller-by-numbers of... ugh, what's this film called again?

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