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‘Paranoia’ thriller never fully charged


Adam Cassidy Liam Hemsworth

Nicholas Wyatt Gary Oldman

Emma Jennings Amber Heard

Jock Goddard Harrison Ford

Relativity Media presents a film directed by Robert Luketic and written by Jason Hall and Barry L. Levy, based on the book by Joseph Finder. Running time: 106 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for some sexuality, violence and language). Opens Friday at local theaters.

Updated: September 17, 2013 7:31AM

The paranoia showcased in “Paranoia” is experienced by the leaders of super-competitive technology companies, people going to great lengths to protect their precious ideas as those concepts are translated into new products and then untold profits.

Facing off in “Paranoia” are two corporate titans: Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford) and Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman), former partners and now viciously bitter enemies. For both men, the ultimate goal is to destroy the other — even if it involves illegal activities.

Enter Liam Hemsworth as the extremely ambitious young programmer and computer whiz-kid who lusts after the wealth, position and power he sees looming just in front of him at his company, headed by Wyatt.

Hemsworth’s Adam Cassidy still lives in the modest home he shares with his widowed father, an ailing former security guard (Richard Dreyfuss). Clearly Adam has a chip on his shoulder, knowing he is what some snooty Manhattan residents call a “bridge and tunnel” guy — a disparaging crack about workers who cummute daily into the Big Apple’s wealthy core, taking bridges or tunnels from their homes in the outer boroughs and suburbs.

After an ill-planned product presentation to Oldman’s Wyatt character, Adam and his entire team are fired — leading him to decide to take everyone out on the town, spending thousands on his corporate credit card before it’s canceled.

That stupid — and illegal — move provides Wyatt with the opportunity to blackmail Adam, forcing him to get a job at Goddard’s Eikon firm. The whole idea: to steal the technology and hardware behind Goddard’s yet-to-be-launched new super-phone — expected to revolutionize the world even more than Steve Jobs did with the iPhone and iPod.

Complicating it all are Adam’s budding romance with an Eikon colleague (Amber Heard) and his own increasing realization of how his ambition has led him down a professional path that we all know will end badly.

While “Paranoia” has been cast with some top-notch actors, the problem here is a lack of oomph both in the script, adapted from Joseph Finder’s novel, and the pretty lame direction by Robert Luketic, best known for much frothier fare (“Legally Blonde,” “The Ugly Truth”). There just are not enough true thrills in this supposed corporate espionage thriller and or surprises in the plot twists.

That said, it is great to watch “Air Force One” co-stars Ford and Oldman mix it up again and go after each other in several scenes that include nicely barbed verbal sparring. Oldman in particular delivers his lines with a nice dose of venom.

Hemsworth also proves that he’s more than another pretty face with a great bod, showing he does have the acting chops needed to hold his own with Ford and Oldman. The same can be said for Heard, who delivers the goods as Emma, the spoiled yet very bright marketing whiz at Goddard’s firm.

The actors do their best. The problem here is simply a formulaic screenplay and less-than-inspired direction.


Twitter: @BillZwecker

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