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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Paranoia review: low anxiety

Paranoia red light Harrison Ford Liam Hemsworth

Offers nothing by way of suspense, intrigue, or characters who rise even a little bit above the yawningly bland.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

For a movie called Paranoia, there’s precious little here in the way of irrational — or even rational — anxiety or delusional fear or worry about whom to trust with what. There’s precious little of big-name, big-charisma stars Gary Oldman (RoboCop) or Harrison Ford (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues), who mostly just wander into scenes every once in a while as if to remind you how much cooler and more intense a movie this could have been. There is, alas, a helluva lot of Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), even as it is becoming increasingly clear that his big brother, Chris, got all the genes for riveting screen presence. To be fair, none of that might have mattered if the dumb script by Jason Hall and Barry L. Levy (Vantage Point) — based on a novel by Joseph Finder that sounds significantly more intelligent and tenable than what we get here — offered anything by way of suspense or intrigue. Or characters who rise even a little bit above the yawningly bland. (I have discovered the most boring sex scene ever! It’s right here, as Hemsworth gets it on with Amber Heard [Machete Kills], who might be the second dullest actor working today, after Hemsworth. If only Oldman or Ford had wandered into this bit…) Manipulated by his former boss (Oldman) on the basis of what seems a pretty hollow and unenforceable threat, Hemsworth’s supposedly genius young tech worker goes undercover at a rival NYC firm headed up by Ford. The young dolt is an industrial spy, but Ford’s company doesn’t seem to be up to anything exciting, much as Oldman’s isn’t — cell phones and GPS simply aren’t that cool anymore, not suspense-thriller cool — and we have absolutely no idea what’s truly at stake for anyone. If you can endure to the point, far too far into the runtime, when we do find out what’s really going on, you will discover that it could not possibly be better calculated to make us care not one tiny iota. The doings of asshole billionaires who want to steal everyone’s privacy (once they’re done stealing each other’s corporate secrets) engender no sympathy… but even more pathetically for director Robert Luketic (Killers), they don’t even engender any delicious schadenfreude.

Paranoia by Joseph Finder [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.]

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Paranoia (2013)
US/Can release: Aug 16 2013
UK/Ire release: Mar 7 2014

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated DDDDGID (dull dull dull dull god it’s dull)
MPAA: rated PG-13 for some sexuality, violence and language
BBFC: rated 12A (contains strong language, moderate sex, moderate violence)

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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