Commentary
5:00 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Movie Review: Paranoia

In this high-stakes thriller, Liam Hemsworth, left, is a regular guy trying to get ahead in his entry-level job.
In this high-stakes thriller, Liam Hemsworth, left, is a regular guy trying to get ahead in his entry-level job.
Credit rottentomatoes.com

Paranoia wants to be serious about corporate misbehavior, but falls short because of uninvolving characters and a tendency to depart from realism in favor of melodramatic and sentimental cliches.

It is admirably realistic in its portrayal of quite ordinary people behaving as ordinary people do, but its characters are not just ordinary, they are uninteresting. Hero Liam Hemsworth lacks charisma enough to overcome a lackluster performance, and in fact only Gary Oldman as a villainous corporate CEO is colorful; Harrison Ford as Oldman's rival is just grumbly. Herione Amber Heard is exquisitely pretty but has only a few facial expressions, and I wonder that Richard Dreyfus accepted his thankless role as Hemsworth's father. Nobody but maybe Gary Oldman seems to have taken Paranoia seriously, including its two screenwriters and director Robert Luketic.

Nobody is admirable, few even honorable, and almost everybody seems to get seamier as the story moves along. There are customary betrayals and turnarounds until everybody breaks out the guns. Touches of artiness don't help: the offices are huge and empty and coldly ultramodern, and the camerawork is periodically eccentric and handheld shakiness, straight-from-the-ceiling angles, and blinding lens devils reminding us that this is just a pattern of light on a big flat screen; the realistic drabness of story and characters is intruded on by fancy photography.

Paranoia starts out realistically and then gradually loses its nerve and turns melodramatic and eventually sentimental. But for the cinematically dreary month of August, you could do a lot worse.