Liam Hemsworth, you know that hunky guy from “The Hunger Games,” isn’t very happy when he first starts to narrate director Robert Luketic’s (21) latest teen friendly flick “Paranoia.” As the audience watches his Adam Cassidy character bolt through a dark New York City alleyway, he tells us, “I’m not going to make excuses. I asked for all of this. I wanted more.” Adam isn’t the only one wanting more from “Paranoia.” Anyone that watches this half-boiled high-tech thriller will end up feeling ripped off.
Adam Cassidy is everything we’ve come to expect out of the “millennial” generation. His hobbies include whining about America’s horrible economy, telling his bed-ridden father (Richard Dreyfus) how he doesn’t want to end up being like him, as well as dancing his techno-loving face off every free moment he gets. Adam has no sense of authority, and after completely blowing an important cell phone presentation — something not only he, but his entire team of friends, has been working on for six years — adds insult to injury by butting heads with the company’s CEO (Gary Oldman).
Not surprisingly, this doesn’t go very well for Adam. He, along with his business team, is fired.
For a character that claims to be a hard worker lost in a world ruined by his predecessors, Adam acts pretty childish when he uses his company credit card, which apparently still works even though he was fired, to get revenge on his former boss. Yup. He is that immature. Instead of sucking it up like a man, Adam takes his friends on a $16,000 night out on the town.
As joint screenwriters Jason Dean Hall (Spread) and Barry Levy’s (Vantage Point) story progresses, we continue to watch Adam make poor decisions. He starts out by agreeing to become a corporate spy for the same boss that fired him. This false sense of power allows him the ability to snoop behind the scenes of even more shady tech executives like Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford). Oh yeah, and he even puts his father into the hands of the FBI at one point.
No amount of eye-appealing filmmaking, which looks and sounds a lot like Luketic’s 2008 film “21,” can supply a convincing reason for all of Adam’s childish actions. Yes, Luketic does a great job combining beautiful people with catchy music and flashy cinematography, but a well put together music video accomplishes the exact same thing.
Despite being given the opportunity to work with veteran, albeit aging actors like Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman, Hemsworth’s on screen presence comes with a disgusting dose of entitlement. He plays his character as if he were a spoiled child forced to spend the afternoon at a retirement home. Whereas the few instances when we see Ford and Oldman on screen together are taut and exciting, the large majority of the film consists of Hemsworth hamming it up using his signature “GQ” ready pose instead of trying to display anything remotely multi-dimensional.
Sadly, the only people that will ultimately feel paranoia while watching “Paranoia” are the filmmakers and cast that made it.
By David Morris