| December 3, 2013

I firmly believe that Paranoia must be about as fast-paced and interesting as real world corporate espionage.  A guy downloads a string of code to his flash drive, or slips a prototype out the back door to sell to a competitor.  Unfortunately this doesn’t make for a very interesting film.  The story here is that Adam (Liam Hemsworth; The Hunger Games) is employed by Nick (Gary Oldman; The Dark Knight) to infiltrate the company of his longtime competitor Jack (Harrison Ford; 42) and steal his new tech.  That’s pretty much it.  The film likes to dress up and make believe it’s a thriller, but being chased through the city streets does not a thriller make.

Along the way, Adam pursues a romantic relationship with Emma (Amber Heard; Drive Angry), who works as Jack’s hot shot marketing executive.  Hemsworth and Heard have absolutely no chemistry together though, and it makes the scenes of his pursuit really awkward to watch.  So, when she actually gives in and falls for him, it simply becomes too unbelievable to suspend your disbelief.

There is a lot of acting talent here, and due credit should be paid.  Harrison Ford’s complicated portrayal of Jack is interesting to watch as he walks the line between doddering grandfather and mafia boss.  Gary Oldman has made a career out of disappearing into whatever part he’s playing and while Nick isn’t his most challenging or interesting role to date, Oldman’s portrayal of the desperate corporate thug is everything you’d expect from the actor’s enormous skill.  Maybe my favorite performance here though is from Richard Dreyfus (Jaws) who plays Adam’s father.  In a movie completely void of heroes and sympathetic characters, Dreyfus gives us some moral compass.  It’s a wonderful performance that goes beyond the comic relief obviously intended.

The film really is void of a hero.  Adam is an ambitious, arrogant, selfish, short-sighted guy, with nothing noble or just motivating any of his actions.  He wants to make a lot of money.  He wants to not go to jail.  He wants to not get shot in the head.  There is no moral debate in his head as to whether or not what he’s doing is right.  One could argue that he’s being forced to work for Nick because he owes him $16,000, but he wouldn’t have been in that predicament if it weren’t for his own stupidity.

With a mediocre plot, uninteresting characters, and a predictable structure, Paranoia falls short in every way.

Special features include deleted scenes and a couple of behind the scenes featurettes.  Available now on Blu-ray and DVD from 20th Century Fox.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
Filed in: Video and DVD

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