MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
Liam Hemsworth as ADAM CASSIDY
Gary Oldman as NICOLAS WYATT
Amber Heard as EMMA JENNINGS
Harrison Ford as JOCK GODDARD
Lucas Til as KEVIN
Embeth Davidtz as DR. JUDITH BOLTON
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Robert Luketic
BY KEVIN CARR
In 2013, there were a handful of movies that came and went without much fanfare. “Paranoia” was one of them, and “Runner Runner” was another. While I haven’t seen the latter, I can say that it was a bit of an undeserved fate for “Paranoia.”
That’s not to say that “Paranoia” was a terrible movie. It is entirely passable as a piece of disposable movie star pulp. In fact, I have to agree with a colleague of mine who stated that movies like “Paranoia” and “Runner Runner” would have been a decent middling release 20 or more years ago. However, in this day of blockbusters and billion-dollar international grosses, this movie felt more at home on home video or on cable.
“Paranoia” tells the story of a young, hotshot tech-savvy worker in the information industry. After blowing a chance at a high-level project at work, he is recruited by his former boss to become a corporate spy. Over the next few weeks, his image is changed, and he is given the tools to worm his way into the competition’s business. However, he soon has a crisis of conscience when he tries to decide which of the two corporate bigwigs deserve his loyalty.
There’s nothing terribly outstanding about the story, but it holds together well enough. Probably its biggest problem is that the filmmakers think they’re telling a somewhat unique story with a new world perspective, but this sort of thing has made its way through Hollywood thrillers for decades. Sandra Bullock in “The Net” showed the dangers of the information age. Will Smith in “Enemy of the State” showed the ease with which a person can be tracked. Even earlier this year, the similarly poor-performing “Closed Circuit” revealed how hard it is to sneak around with so many cameras in the world today.
What makes “Paranoia” stand out a bit is the oddly strong cast. The corporate competitors are played by Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman, two veterans of excellent films. Unfortunately, these aren’t the stars of the film. Instead, the movie features Liam Hemsworth, whom most people recognize as the other guy in “The Hunger Games” films, or possibly as Thor’s less-popular brother. (No, not Loki. His real-life brother.)
Like the film itself, Hemsworth isn’t terrible in the role. However, he doesn’t pop, either. Instead, he’s simply passable and works to a degree. Where his brother Chris has a real command of the audience through the camera, Liam Hemsworth is just another pretty face.
Hemsworth brings this level of mediocrity to the screen, and he is balanced by another pretty face that doesn’t offer much in unique star power, Amber Heard. This is where the film suffers, by putting the empathy and drive of the plot on their shoulders.
Still, I didn’t find “Paranoia” as a waste of time. It’s too flashy when it tries too hard, and many of the establishing shots around the big city look like they’ve been edited in from a basic cable show like “White Collar.” But for a rainy Saturday afternoon, “Paranoia” is worth a rent. It’s not one to avoid.
The Blu-ray also comes with the DVD, which includes Digital Copy capabilities. Bonus features on the disc include a set of deleted scenes, plus three short featurettes: “Privacy Is Dead” about how privacy is severely limited in the information age, “The Paranoia Begins” about the making of the film and “The Players” about the film’s better-than-deserved cast.