'Paranoia': Your phone might be scary, but this flick isn't

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceAugust 15, 2013 

PARANOIA

Liam Hemsworth stars as techie who is recruited as a corporate spy in Paranoia.

PETER IOVINO

  • MOVIE REVIEW

    'Paranoia'

    ★★☆☆☆

    PG-13 for some sexuality, violence and language. Relativity. 1:46. Fayette Mall, Hamburg, Movie Tavern, Nicholasville, Richmond, Winchester, Woodhill.

Paranoia is the perfect name for a thriller about how our smartphones are outsmarting us.

A star vehicle for "the other Hemsworth" (Hungers Games' Liam, not brother Chris, aka Thor), it features a couple of chewy scenes pitting Harrison Ford against Gary Oldman.

Sadly, it is as slow, slick and super ficial as the director of 21 and Killers can make it.

Hemsworth is Adam Cassidy, a low-level apps innovator bribed and blackmailed into corporate espionage by one cellphone mogul, Nicolas Wyatt (Oldman), into stealing from another mogul, his old mentor Jock Goddard (Ford).

Amber Heard is the dishy marketing guru whom Adam must betray. Richard Dreyfuss is the sickly father who is the reason Adam is desperate for cash. Dad, always dozing through ball games, wakes up long enough to ask, "You want to tell me what's going on?"

The story, based on a novel by Joseph Finder, takes a very long time to get up to speed. There's all this thinly atmospheric filler about surveillance — the ways our phones track us, the "security" that they provide and that is so easily hacked, the sinister people misusing all this data.

One nifty plot device is Adam's unheralded gift for instantly figuring out the pass code to any phone he picks up, handy when you're infiltrating a paranoid corporation whose latest phone innovation will "start a revolution."

Oldman channels Michael Caine in the way he uses "old son" as the punchline to many a put-down.

"You want to see how the other half lives? We are the other half, old son!"

The laziest scripts on Earth over-explain themselves, starting with redundant voice-over narration and finishing with the weariest truisms, bromides and rules to live by. ("Be careful what you wish for," "If you let no one in, you get burned by no one" and "You have to fit in to get in.")

Maybe those lines will seem fresh to the younger target audience that Paranoia aims for.

Director Robert Luketic's team flashes the cash in this heady world that Adam infiltrates: stunning apartments, collectible sports cars, designer clothes, exotic offices with sci-fi-level security systems.

Which Adam, who is fired for being a third-rate thinker at one cellphone company, somehow figures out how to foil on his way to tidying up this messy double- and triple-dealing tale with a nice bow at the end.

Yes, your phone might be your undoing — eating your wallet, revealing your secrets, causing you to wreck your car or walk in front of a bus while lost in texting. That's enough to make you paranoid. This movie? Not so much.


MOVIE REVIEW

'Paranoia'

★★☆☆☆

PG-13 for some sexuality, violence and language. Relativity. 1:46. Fayette Mall, Hamburg, Movie Tavern, Nicholasville, Richmond, Winchester, Woodhill.

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