Greed Shoots First 

Paranoia Will Annoy Ya

PARANOIA "Tell Jabba I've got his mon—oh, sorry, Sirius. Thought you were someone else."

PARANOIA "Tell Jabba I've got his mon—oh, sorry, Sirius. Thought you were someone else."

THERE'S AN ALARMING sickness at the heart of Paranoia, the new tech thriller that puts Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman in supporting roles under a character played by Thor's younger brother (Liam Hemsworth, apparently an actual person). I don't know whether it was actually written by a millennial, or by hack Hollywood screenwriters attempting to emulate the millennial mindset, but it doesn't merely revel in its characters' craven greed, it expects us to empathize with it. Adam Cassidy (Hemsworth) wants to be filthy rich, expects to be filthy rich—and not because he is particularly smart or hardworking. No, instant riches are his divine right as an American, dammit, and when the sluggish economy doesn't make amassing vast quantities of wealth particularly easy for him, he gets sniffy. A better name for Paranoia would have been Entitlement.

After getting fired by tech CEO Nicolas Wyatt (Oldman), Adam takes his friends out to an exclusive, velvet-roped nightclub, racking up a huge bill on his soon-to-be-cancelled corporate card. This truly horrendous-looking place is the movie's idea of paradise on earth, where overpriced bottle service and gaudily awful music signify the pinnacle of human achievement. Instead of making Cassidy pay off the credit card bill, Wyatt forces him to spy on his rival, who possesses the unlikely name of Jock Goddard (played by Ford). Working undercover at Goddard's company—for some reason, Paranoia thinks all the innovative tech companies are based in Manhattan—Cassidy and Goddard hit it off, and Cassidy isn't sure if he wants to give up the secrets to Wyatt after all.

Ford, with a completely shaved head, is kind of okay, at least for the first half of Paranoia, and Oldman's over-the-top British accent is working class, so that way you know he's evil. Everything else here is either idiotic or phony, right down to Richard Dreyfuss as Cassidy's rumpled, unambitious pop. (Dreyfuss is fine, but his character alternately wears Mets and Yankees caps, which is downright ludicrous.) Even Hemsworth the Lesser seems kind of embarrassed by the whole thing.

It's a thriller whose (nonexistent) tension is based entirely on the main character being a dipshit who gets exploited because of his own greed. I suppose the idea is that Cassidy is meant to learn a few tough lessons along the way, but in Paranoia's world, no life is worth living without lots and lots of money. Furthermore, its plot relies heavily on the ins and outs of the tech business, but there's not even the faintest understanding of it—apparently, the filmmakers believe that cell phones are made out of magic. For a movie that puts such an emphasis on the importance of money, it says something that, aside from a few good Ford lines and lots of glossy wealth-porn, Paranoia is entirely bankrupt.

Paranoia
Rated PG-13 · 106 minutes · 2013
Director: Robert Luketic
Producer: Alexandra Milchan, Scott Lambert, William Johnson, Deepak Nayar, Stuart Ford, Sam Englebardt, Sidonie Dumas, Christophe Riandee, Allen Liu, William S. Beasley, David Greathouse, Douglas Urbanski, Ryan Kavanaugh and Tucker Tooley
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Amber Heard, Lucas Till, Embeth Davidtz, Julian McMahon, Josh Holloway and Richard Dreyfuss

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