Is it possible to have it all without there being consequences involved for your loved ones? Can you make the right decision after choosing the wrong path to take? That's part of the premise behind the DVD release of "Paranoia," which detailed one man's quest come out of the corporate world alive. Unfortunately, the film's early promise was never truly realized due to a familiar plot that failed to generate any true surprises.
"Paranoia" followed Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) who had big dreams of making it as a big executive at Wyatt Corporation. Sadly, he had spent years toiling away in an entry level position that prevented him from rising up in the ranks. With the help of fellow tech wizard Aaron (Lucas Till), Adam had a chance to do that in a group presentation to his boss Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman), but he wasn't interested in what Adam had to present. Wyatt's lack of interest caused Adam to blow up at his boss, which got everyone in Adam's group fired as well. In a last ditch attempt at spite, Adam and the group have a night out on the town that ended up giving Wyatt cause to blackmail him into being a corporate spy for the company. Adam's mission was to be hired as a high level executive at the company ran by Wyatt's rival/former mentor Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford) and cultivating a working relationship with him to better steal trade secrets. He was groomed to play his new part perfectly by Wyatt's closest ally Judith (Embeth Davidtz) as he learned the ins and outs of being a corporate spy. What Adam take into account was that his father (Richard Dreyfuss) and his potential girlfriend Emma Jennings (Amber Heard) could be casualties in Adam's quest to stay alive as Wyatt's henchman Meechum (Julian McMahon) was eager to pull the trigger at any given time. How will Adam handle the truth when he finds out that there was more to the story as to why he was chosen to be a corporate spy? What will he do to get out of trouble?
In terms of questions, the movie tended to not pose too many, because moviegoers could pretty much predict what was going to happen at least ten minutes into the story. The movie's plot holes were explained why with one twist that really wasn't all too surprising.The first hour of the movie was basically designed to be the ultimate set-up that led to the last 30 minutes where everyone demonstrated their true colors. Even though the story was complete fiction, Hollywood would need to make viewers believe that an unemployed tech genius could even be chosen for such a high ranking position at another company when he clearly wasn't qualified for the job. Hemsworth's Adam had one brief job interview and he was instantly hired without being properly vetted for the position. It was obvious from the start that there was more to Adam's instant success at his job posting. The movie also failed to flesh out the true origins of the rivalry between Ford and Oldman's characters. Their characters should've been the true focus of the movie, or the movie could've chosen a stronger younger actor to play the leading man. Hemsworth hasn't truly demonstrated that he had the ability to carry a movie and should maybe stick to supporting roles for a while, until he finds the right role that suits him better. Sadly, this wasn't it for him. He also lacked chemistry with Heard as they appeared to be more on-screen friends than actual on-screen lovers. Hemsworth had a better rapport with Till, which allowed the movie to have some rare moments of levity.
As for breakout performances, Till and Davidtz led the pack in their supporting roles for different reasons. Till's Aaron gave the film some rare moments of comedy where the audience could enjoy themselves. The character also served to be a moral compass for Hemsworth's Adam as he struggled to get back to doing the right thing. Till also had a pivotal part in making sure that everyone got what was coming to them. His character was the one that saved the day when Adam was outsmarted by Ford's ruthless Jock. Davidtz, on the other hand, had a seemingly minor role as a mentor for Hemsworth's Adam. She appeared to be the nurturing sort of person that could help to make someone commit any kind of felony without applying too much pressure. Davidtz's most memorable scene came towards the end of the film when Judith's true colors were revealed and helped to explain why Adam's mission was doomed to fail from the start. She gave Judith a look of shock and fear as she realized that she could be just another casualty of the war between Wyatt and Jock if she wasn't too careful. Sadly, the movie's biggest casualties were Ford and Oldman because their characters were never properly utilized beyond being mere cartoonish villains who had grand lethal plans for success. It's a shame that they weren't properly put to good use in the movie, because their presence was the only reason the movie was worth watching.
Verdict: Despite two strong leading men, the movie tended to focus on weaker characters and made the plot twists a little too obvious when more focus should've paid elsewhere.
DVD Score: 1 out of 5 stars
Movie Rating: PG-13
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)