We gave it a C
Paranoia? More like déjà vu. Director Robert Luketic’s rehash of every techno-thriller from the past 20 years stars Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games) as Adam Cassidy, a cocky New York computer whiz who gets used as a pawn by two warring CEOs obsessed with corporate espionage. Hemsworth’s Adam is meant to be a brainy and ambitious Everyman, but with his impossibly sculpted Abercrombie physique and knack for removing his shirt at the merest suggestion, it’s hard to buy him staying up all night writing code.
This cyberdud kicks off when Adam gets the opportunity to pitch his billionaire boss, Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman), on a new software program and gets shot down in flames. He and his team are pink-slipped. To help soothe the sting, Adam and his herd of hipster nerds decide to party all night on his boss’ dime, running up a $16,000 tab on table-service vodka. The next day, Wyatt summons Adam to his office and proposes a Faustian bargain (one that sounds especially sinister when delivered in Oldman’s Cockney accent): Wyatt won’t press charges if Adam agrees to become a mole in his rival’s company, Eikon. To sweeten the deal, promises of wealth, sports cars, and Dr. Evil-like glass-and-steel lairs are thrown into the mix.
Jason Hall and Barry L. Levy’s Swiss-cheese script, which was officially adapted from Joseph Finder’s bestselling novel (and unofficially from The Firm), makes it impossibly easy for Adam to infiltrate Eikon, the competing tech giant run by Harrison Ford’s charismatic, chrome-domed honcho, Jock Goddard. Adam quickly impresses both his new boss and Eikon’s sultry head of marketing (Amber Heard), which leads to even more opportunities for close-ups of Hemsworth’s hard-working abs in the boudoir.
Since the movie is called Paranoia and both Oldman and Ford are quickly telegraphed as mustache-twirling baddies of the first order, you know that plenty of conspiracy twists lay in store. I won’t give them away here, but I will warn you not to get your hopes up. As Adam’s sickly, blue-collar father, Richard Dreyfus has a few good scenes playing what is essentially the Martin Sheen role from Wall Street, and Embeth Davidtz is memorably icy as Oldman’s henchwoman, with her severe bob and clipped British diction. But the only real reason Paranoia is even remotely worth watching is the chance to see Oldman and Ford go head-to-head like two vipers thrown into a potato sack. These two veterans have been so good for so long that even in a movie as lightweight and disposable as this one, they can’t help but be entertaining. C