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'Paranoia' is an underachieving thriller

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Paranoia is slick, fast paced and entertaining, but it is a bit of an underachiever.  As Adam Cassidy, Liam Hemsworth, (the younger brother of Thor: AKA Chris Hemsworth), is a twenty something software and device geek who leads a team eager to get ahead at their global company, owned by Nic Wyatt (Gary Oldman). Photo: scopecube.com

Cassidy and his friends are the underpaid millennials, watching the leading generation live in luxury. In this film, the rich have created their wealth through talent and innovation. Maintaining it, however, is the real challenge.

 The official trailer practically gives the entire movie away – so don’t watch it! Harrison Ford is Jock Goddard, Wyatt’s former mentor and boss. Both Goddard and Wyatt spin tales reflecting their version of their shared history. Goddard appears nostalgic for the days of their happier partnership, and Wyatt sulks for the years lost solving Goddard’s product challenges.

Embeth Davidtz plays Dr. Judith Bolton, the film's organizational psychologist who prepares Cassidy for a career transformation. Cassidy’s makeover scene while clichéd, was still enjoyable. What man doesn’t look great in a suit?

With his first adult starting role, Hemsworth holds his own against veterans Ford and Oldman- quite possibly because he towers over them. While Hemsworth carries himself with a relaxed athleticism and charm, Oldman's Wyatt behaves like the typical creative and privileged white guy – he’s curt, egotistical, and manipulative, Ford’s character comes off slightly better. Much like Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro's scenes in Heat, Ford's scenes with Oldman crackle. The two men treat Cassidy differently, one motivates with a carrot, the other a stick. Kevin (Lucas Till) and Allison (Angela Sarafyan) deliver strong supporting performances as Adam’s friends and collaborators.  As Hemsworth’s love interest Emma Jennings, Amber Heard  has great chemistry with the lead, but when she's called on to do more than flirt, she under delivers.

While the script provides some twists, it relies too heavily on tropes – especially for Heard and the characters of supporting actors Julian McMahon and Josh Holloway.  Adam’s best friend is fleshed out a bit more. Richard Dreyfuss plays Cassidy’s father with a twinkle in his eye, but he too is saddled with a shell of a character. 

Director Robert Luketic (21, Legally Blonde) bundles the movie in pretty packaging – fast cuts, hip soundtrack, striking visuals, but if he strengthened plot and deepened the character development, he would have had a blockbuster. If you’re looking to relax after a long week or escape the summer weather - sit bac.k and enjoy the talented cast, beautiful sets and fast cars

 

Contact Diane Cooney at dcooney@philly2philly.com

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Photo: scopecube.com