The thriller ‘Paranoia’ isn’t even that paranoid
Director: Robert Luketic
Stars: Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford
1 Globe (out of 5)
Just because a movie is set in the world of adults doesn’t mean it’s not childish. “Paranoia” delves into the realm of cut-throat business, with aging CEOs played by Gary Oldman and a hairless Harrison Ford battling it out for cell phone technology that will largely be patronized by those two generations younger than them. But its understanding of this microcosm is only slightly more credible than the one in “Birdemic,” where boyish men in cheap suits casually make deals in the trillions. It doesn’t even seem to fully embrace its title, which could have been saved for a movie that’s more than simply garden variety suspicious.
Attempting to crash this scene is Adam (Liam Hemsworth), a good guy upstart with working-class roots. (His father, played by Richard Dreyfuss, has health care woes.) After a pricey night out on the company dime, Adam is blackmailed by his fearsome boss (Gary Oldman) into befriending the competition (Ford) and stealing his secrets.
Not since undercover agent Ryan Phillippe was able to gain the confidence of seasoned fed Chris Cooper in “Breach” has a painfully wooden actor been so mysteriously capable at expert subterfuge. Hemsworth is younger brother to Chris, star of “Thor,” and he lacks his build, presence and modest chops.
Dumb twists abound, and one would have to be thick, not paranoid, to not see them coming. Matters quickly and ridiculously escalate, with assassins (among them Julian Nichols) who try to take out our young hero. But they’re easily felled. One near-assassination in a car garage is thwarted with a single punch. The way in which Adam proves inevitably victorious is the opposite of a chess move — it’s so profoundly lazy that the villains ought to have been jailed only for lacking basic intelligence.
Director Robert Luketic (“Legally Blonde”) tries to distract with a slickness that’s periodically seductive. It looks the part of a smart movie, but underneath its pleasant exterior lies rank stupidity and a dull forthrightness fitting with its young star. Only the “Air Force One” rematch between Oldman and Ford, the latter modestly enjoying playing both villainous and supporting, offers a respite from the amateur-hour shenanigans.