Edgy corporate espionage thriller? Or minor work of cinemasochistic genius? You decide!
Lauren Carroll Harris
Published on August 12, 2013


I could summarise Paranoia's plot. But to do so would be to compile a stock-standard litany of signposts of the corporate espionage genre: Dastardly capitalists who'll stop at nothing to retain their market share! An ambitious upstart from a working-class family who is recruited to steal secrets and quickly realises he's out of his depth! A hot love interest who our hero must lie to in order to retain his compromised position spying in the belly of the beast! Sinister henchmen who appear in little more than silhouette! Hard-edged, Matrix-style, millennial typefaces for the opening credits! The film equivalent of Getty stock images of New York's time-lapsed skyline at night! And finally, a mediocre title bluntly aimed at edginess: 'Sniper'? 'Hunted'? 'Suspect'? No, it's Paranoia!

Here, the wide-eyed protagonist is Our Liam (Hemsworth), direct from Summer Bay via The Hunger Games, and our scheming tech billionaires are autopiloted by Gary Oldman (with an inexplicable Cockney accent) and Harrison Ford, who appears to be possessed by a necromancer. All of these actors are totally interchangeable — Hemsworth could be traded for Chris Pine or Ryan Reynolds, and Oldman or Ford could be any old guy with credibility for hire.

Who's swindling who?! Have the tables turned? Fear not, each 'twist' is signalled from a pantomime-long distance. And remember, we're in a pro-Facebook, post-GFC era now, so we'll need just enough references to 'cutbacks' and 'socially networked devices' to make some token social commentary. But beyond the name dropping, terms like 'insider trading' are merely fuel for the generic, white-collar thriller fire.

Paranoia really is so cliched and tiresome, it could be a minor work of cinemasochistic genius by Australian, Legally Blonde director Robert Luketic. No, the best thing for this sort of exercise in filmic pollution is to stealthily organise your cinema trip around a genre-based drinking game with a group of friends. Gratuitous Apple Mac product placement? Drink! Garden variety corporate-speak ("Competition breeds innovation!" "We need more R&D!")? Drink! Hey, maybe this movie's not so bad after all. Maybe the filmmakers were playing us for dupes and intend Paranoia to have a long and healthy DVD afterlife in the 'so bad it's good' category of home viewing. The tables have turned! Or have they?


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