Synopsis: The high stakes thriller Paranoia takes us deep behind the scenes of
global success to a deadly world of greed and deception. The two most
powerful tech billionaires in the world (Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman)
are bitter rivals with a complicated past who will stop at nothing to
destroy each other. A young superstar (Liam Hemsworth), seduced by
unlimited wealth and power falls between them, and becomes trapped in
the middle of the twists and turns of their life-and-death game of corporate
espionage. By the time he realizes his life is in danger, he is in far
too deep and knows far too much for them to let him walk away.
Release Date: August 16, 2013 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Thriller, Mystery
The future of espionage is in cellular phones. Seriously? Its not as far fetched as you might think, considering the way we, as a people, have become wholly dependent on our smartphones to keep us in touch with the world around us–even if we aren’t actually participating in said world. Paranoia‘s story backdrop surrounds two warring telecommunications companies who are both eager to release the next big thing in communications technology. Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) is the main character, and narrator of the story; a very bright tech-wiz who gets tangled up in the war between Wyatt Corp. and Ikon because he makes a fatal error upon being fired from Wyatt Corp.: he uses the company credit card to party all night with his friends. Get sent to jail for fraud or become a mole at Ikon in order to discover what the next big thing is they have cooking? Its an easy choice, especially with the money Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) is offering because Adam desperately needs it to pay off his ailing father’s medical bills.
Things get complicated, as Adam discovers Wyatt is not to be trusted and that he and Ikon’s man-in-charge, Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford), have history. The kind of history that will make both men stop at nothing to bring the other one down. Adam is in over his head, and he discovers this very quickly–we, as viewers, have seen it coming from the very beginning. Adam wanted more from life, to escape his roots and become a player across the bridge. It can’t be easy to do this, and as the opening monologue states “his generation” does not have the opportunity their parent’s did; they are full of contempt, and have had the American Dream taken from them. You can see instances where this theme is shown throughout the movie through Adam and other characters, but its not worthy of great introspection. The attempt to put deeper meaning in the movie is all well and good but Paranoia is standard formulaic fare that manages to keep your interest, and nothing more. This can be attributed to the wealth of oddball characters that exist throughout the film that don’t always prescribe to what they were intended for. The best example being tough-guy Miles Meechum (Julian McMahon) who nearly prances into action when called upon to hurt, kill, or threaten. He’s meant to be the tough guy, but there’s something strangely effeminate about him that doesn’t quite add up.
Watching Paranoia can neither hurt nor help anyone. Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman are great, even with the occasional awkward lines they are given. Their scenes steal everything away from all else, and that’s not a shocking conclusion. You will not find any big plot twists or thrills in Paranoia. Everything here has been done before, and its been done much better plenty of times. Yet Paranoia still manages to come out on the side of not-so-bad over dreadful. Director Robert Luketic pulled off making Paranoia oddly enjoyable, for the fleeting moment it registers in your short-term memory.
In moviemaking less is more when you want to “show, not tell.” In Paranoia it is all about telling the viewer what to look at, what to notice, and what is obviously going to be important in the future of the plot. This is done in the worst possible way, aided by cinematographer David Tattersall, although placing blame on him does not feel like the right thing to do. That said, the entire movie relies on inserts of shots that display an item, or thing, at the end of a scene to tell the audience that this particular thing is important, or “look, he got what he needed”. The first time it happens you shrug it off easily, as its not uncommon in movies for this to happen. The second, fourth, and many more times it is done you realize the filmmakers are assuming stupidity on your part and that without inserting a shot of said item you would not be able to piece together the plot of the movie or character motivations.
Aside from the nonsensical inserts, Paranoia is shot very well by David Tattersall. The entire film has a shininess to it, mirroring the focus on technology and the future of innovations. There is a heavy use of seeing characters through the lens of a security camera, and monitoring their movements with this technology. It all fits in the story as it should, and the watchful eye is of particular interest because main character Adam Cassidy is indeed being watched at all times. Cinematography can easily go unnoticed when its done well, and Paranoia does not call for any inventive actions in the realm of camera-work. If it weren’t for the ridiculous close-up inserts there would be no need to comment on the look of the film at all.
I have a new wish I want granted after seeing Paranoia. It is to have Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman star in a two-man show, on stage or on film, it would not matter. I send this desire out into the world because after seeing them together in Paranoia, in only two scenes no less, the sparks that fly between them as adversaries is remarkable. Ford’s Goddard and Oldman’s Wyatt despise one another–I likened them to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates–and when the tete-a-tete begins between them all bets are off as to what one or the other will say or do to push all the right buttons of the other man. Ford is victorious most of the time, but Oldman gets in plenty of his own memorable moments as well. Its not so much about the dialogue between the two men but the body language they display in one another’s presence. There is an uncomfortableness, a need to best the other, mingled with sly looks and wry smiles that create giggles from the viewer because you can feel the animosity that exists between the two men. Paranoia may not be the best movie to watch but its almost worth the price of admission just to see Ford and Oldman together on screen.
As for the rest of the cast in Paranoia, the only other coupling that needs to work to sell the story is between Adam (Liam Hemsworth) and Emma (Amber Heard). It would not be an espionage thriller without a love story on the side, right? Viewers are in luck here, as Hemsworth and Heard actually have chemistry between one another. This is due mostly to the way she blows him off at every opportunity and he keeps coming back with some form of witty banter. Their pairing works, even when things get “heavy” between them as the story progresses. Its hard to not laugh when she dismisses him after a one-night stand, blaming her weakness for “bridge and tunnel men” when she’s been drinking. Things could have been a great deal worse in Paranoia had the casting of these two characters resulted in a lack of chemistry. Viewers are fortunate enough to have a decent pairing between Hemsworth and Heard, even when they aren’t talking and the lights go dark.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Robert Luketic
- Screenwriter(s): Jason Dean HallBarry Levy
- Cast: Liam Hemsworth (Adam Cassidy)Harrison Ford (Jock Goddard)Gary Oldman (Nicholas Wyatt) Amber Heard (Emma Jennings)Josh Holloway (Agent Billups)Richard Dreyfuss (Frank Cassidy)
- Editor(s): Dany Cooper
- Cinematographer: David Tattersall
- Production Designer(s): Missy Stewart
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Junkie XL
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA