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Article by Teddy Durgin

Paranoia Is Hemsworth-less

"Paranoia" is one of those movies that doesn't know how full of it it really is. It's a movie that preaches against the trappings of wealth and power and material possessions by giving us two lovingly photographed hours of vapid, pompous characters riding around in gleaming, ultra-cool sports cars; living in posh, ridiculously high-priced homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons; wearing designer clothes; ordering the most expensive wines; frequenting the most exclusive clubs; and kicking their feet back in corner offices and boardrooms that look like an Apple store vomited in the C-suite. It's a movie that aims to be a sharp, intelligent, sobering commentary on class warfare and income disparity... packaged in a screenplay that finds ways to get hunky leading man Liam Hemsworth shirtless no less than six times in the first 45 minutes. It's a movie where corporate pitch meetings last all of 30 seconds in which young millennials are either disgraced and told their ideas are worthless or are roundly applauded and told their inventions are brilliant, will make billions of dollars and will change the world. Hemsworth stars as Adam, a young hotshot executive with a chip on his shoulder who indeed yearns to make billions. He's just a poor boy from a poor family, and he flames out when he pitches tech mogul Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) a new cell-phone software program that Wyatt likens to the film's screenplay. So, Adam does what every smart, young professional does when he needs to go find his next job. He takes Wyatt Corp.'s corporate credit card that his research team was given that taps directly into the company's discretionary fund... and runs up a $16,000 bar bill! At the same club, he also picks up Emma (Amber Heard), who plays the kind of character all women can identify with - a hot, young Yale graduate who makes six figures and spends her evenings dancing alone in Gotham watering holes and looking for one-night stands. At any rate, the next day, Adam is summoned to the house of Dracula... er, Wyatt, and the billionaire bloodsucker tells him that if he doesn't go to work for his enemy Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford) and steal his new prototype cell phone (that will, of course, make billions), he will turn him into the authorities for his illegal bar bill. What follows is a truly ridiculous sequence in which Adam is spirited off to Wyatt's suburban mansion ostensibly to be trained on how to infiltrate Goddard's company. But all he really does for the weekend is swim, shower and get fitted for new clothes. The film then proceeds in ways so lame that I just had to laugh in parts. It doesn't help that Hemsworth is completely bland in the lead role. He looks like one of the lesser Baldwin brothers that Alec has to send money to every six months to keep from pestering him. And not only that, but we're asked to believe that this male model hunk of beefcake is somehow the spawn of... Richard Dreyfuss! And as for Hemsworth and Heard's romantic chemistry? Yikes! I've seen more heat generated from male and female mannequins positioned just so at Target. It doesn't help that Heard makes the unfortunate acting choice of channeling Kristen Stewart, adopting a dead-eyed, monotone demeanor throughout in which even the smallest of smiles seems like great effort. The only delights to be had are the two scenes in which the former "Air Force One" stars Ford and Oldman get to go toe-to-toe and holler at each other. No, Ford does not get a chance to bellow, "Get off my private plane!" That would have actually been a fun, cool and memorable moment. But their two scenes together DO crackle, and obviously this is where the meat of the movie SHOULD have been. Director Robert Luketic simply has no feel for this kind of film. As a result, this is one movie that won't make billions or even millions. It's creatively bankrupt.

 

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