Critic’s Rating 1.5 stars out of 5
Rated R by the MPAA
Directed by Robert Luketic. Starring Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Liam Hemsworth, Lucas Till, Josh Holloway and Amber Heard. Opens Fri., Aug. 16 at area theaters.
Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) is a kid with vision. After six years, he, his pal Kevin (Lucas Till) and their team are still low-level drones at Wyatt Corp., the top tech company in the world. But that’s about to change; they have a pitch meeting with tech guru/company namesake Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman), and it’s their time to shine. Or so Adam thought before bombing the meeting, insulting the CEO and landing them all out on their asses. May as well use that corporate credit card to throw themselves a going away party, right? They all get wasted, Adam hooks up, and it seems like a night to remember. Until the next morning, that is.
Apparently, corporate titans don’t appreciate being taken for a several thousand dollar bar tab and Adam finds himself over a barrel facing potential fraud charges. Of course, he could always play ball with Wyatt and go spy on the competition, another one-percenter named Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford), who owns eikon and is Wyatt’s former mentor. Mind you, they’ll be watching the whole time. (There’s cameras everywhere.)
After a quick jaunt through Wyatt’s finishing school for corporate espionage, Adam can now fit in and interviews for an exec job with eikon. His hookup from the other night, Emma (Amber Heard), turns out to be more than he had gambled for. When a fed (Josh Holloway) joins the party and lets Adam ruminate on what may have happened to some of Wyatt’s previous spies, the guy starts wondering how much deeper he can sink and how far is too far to save his own ass?
You’ll be doing a lot of yawning, no matter what time of day you see Paranoia. While there’s nothing original under the sun, you’d think they’d at least try to put a new shine on the cliché. You’ve got the driven young Turk, with a rough upbringing and overwhelming need to overcompensate. Then there’s the typical betrayal, the balls in the vise and the counter-scheme. They even went whole hog and threw in the dying father at no extra charge.
Maybe it’s all the extra baggage that weighs this snoozer down but for a flick billed as a thriller, it sure took a while to warm up. Once it does, of course, it’s all systems go. Hopefully director Robert Luketic will use his paycheck to go back to film school and learn that tension is supposed to build. It’s like he forgot to hit the suspense button, realized the mistake an hour in, and then smashed the damn thing so hard it got stuck. To be fair, what’s to be expected from the guy who gave us gems like Legally Blonde, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton and Monster-in-Law? (Although, in fairness, his 21 was underrated.) Oh, and, by the way, we get it — there are fucking cameras EVERYWHERE!
Oldman and Ford are wasted in their relatively small roles. Hemsworth look like the answer to the question, “what if Chris Evans and Paul Walker produced a love child that gestated in Ryan Gosling’s womb?” but he hasn’t quite mastered his craft yet. He could always blame the writing (and he’d have a point). Of all the actors, Heard’s performance stands out, the actress proving that she’s more than a pretty face.
If you’re coming down with a case of Paranoia, just pray the voices aren’t telling to see this after-birth of cinematic lameness.