“Paranoia,” a ho-hum thriller about corporate spying in the high-tech world, comes off as a lot more preposterous than paranoid, and it takes no more than a few frames for the eye rolling to commence.
First, we meet our main character, Adam Cassidy, a “regular” geek who looks like a Christian Dior model. Liam Hemsworth (“Hunger Games”) makes for a convincing babe magnet — and the camera loves him — but a trailblazing computer whiz? A tortured soul? What were they thinking? Well, when you see him in various stages of undress, you know exactly what they were thinking.
That this guy could outsmart the world’s biggest, baddest corporate tycoons is only the first in a long list of implausibilities that verge dangerously close to camp. This situation could have been mitigated if the exercise exuded any sense of excitement and suspense, but just about everything here is half-hearted.
The flaccid proceedings begin in un-earnest when Adam gets axed from the Wyatt Corporation after trading barbs with CEO Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman, collecting a paycheck).
In response, Adam stages one last work party, courtesy of the company credit card. That doesn’t sit well with Mr. Wyatt, who gives Adam the choice of prison time or a well-paid gig spying on Wyatt’s hated rival, Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford, collecting a paycheck).
Before you know it, out-of-work Adam has a multistory New York pad that would make Donald Trump blush — all he has to do is pilfer the secrets to Goddard’s new gadget. And, of course, flaunt his superb wardrobe, which presumably gets him hired on to the rival firm.
For the next hour or so, there are some double crosses, hints of murder, FBI intrigue — most of which fall flat and go nowhere. The exquisitely photographed exteriors of New York, coupled with Junkie XL’s entrancing score, provide more thrills than any of the story elements.
Much of the problem is the casting of Hemsworth, who doesn’t have the screen presence to hold up this film (he’s in almost every scene). To cut the guy some slack, the lackluster script doesn’t give him a character to play; instead, his emotional arc is announced in a series of voiceovers that seem to be tacked on to the beginning and end of the picture.
We also never remotely believe his relationship with Emma, played by Amber Heard, a decent actress who deserves a better fate than portraying her nincompoop character (there are lots of inexplicably dumb computer types in his movie). You halfway expect her to Snapchat herself and send it to 911, in hopes of being rescued by someone. Anyone.
Faring better is Adam’s best friend, Kevin, played by Lucas Till with a sincere, nerdish charm, and Wyatt’s right hand, Judith, played with devilish flair by Embeth Davidtz, who gives the movie much-needed life every time she’s on screen.
“Paranoia” represents another disappointing outing for director Robert Luketic, whose inspired debut “Legally Blonde” has been followed by a slate of so-so films. This latest project fits perfectly into that forgettable file.
San Francisco Chronicle