Susan Granger’s review of “Paranoia” (Relativity Media)


You’ve got to wonder why top-notch actors like Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman didn’t spy the credibility pitfalls and all-too-obvious loopholes in Jason Hall and Barry L. Levy’s screen adaptation of Joseph Finder’s 2004 novel.

When ambitious programmer Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) and his low-level techie team (Lucas Till, Angela Sarafyan) are summarily fired after their smartphone-enhanced presentation
fails to impress head honcho Nicolas Wyatt (Oldman), they vow revenge. So Cassidy takes everyone out, drinking Ciroq on a trendy bar binge, using his company credit card. Not surprisingly, nasty billionaire Wyatt summons Cassidy to his heavily-guarded mansion to exact retribution – blackmail in the form of corporate espionage. After considerable coaching in executive culture by Wyatt’s icy confidante/psychologist, Judith Bolton (Embeth Davidz), Cassidy’s sent to work for and ingratiate
himself with Wyatt’s former mentor/now rival Jock Goddard (Ford) at Eikon (pronounced “Icahn”) Corp. and steal his sleek smartphone secrets. He keeps that illegal, immoral assignment secret from his former security-guard father (Richard Dreyfuss), who has emphysema and lives in working-class Brooklyn. He also deceives Goddard’s marketing director, snarky Emma Jennings (Amber Heard), whom he’s bedding.  Predictably, Cassidy gets caught in the billionaire tycoons’ ferocious feud, which is complicated by the intimidating appearance of an FBI agent (Josh Holoway from “Lost”), determined to uncover the duplicitous deception.

Problem is: it’s far too slick and simplistic, incongruously set in Manhattan, rather than
Seattle or California’s Silicon Valley – and the formulaic direction by Robert Luketic (“Legally Blonde,” “The Ugly Truth”) doesn’t help. Hunky 23 year-old Australian actor Liam Hemsworth has become known as Jennifer Lawrence’s co-star in the “Hunger Games” franchise and pop star Miley Cyrus’ off-screen romantic interest. But he seriously lacks the kind of compelling charisma that oozes from Harrison Ford (even with his shaved head) and Gary Oldman, or even his older brother, Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor in “The Avengers.” And Junkie XL’s electronic score is jarring and disconcerting.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Paranoia” is a dumbed-down 5. It’s totally lacking in
suspense and common sense.