[img]http://dvd.box.sk/newsimg/dvdmov/max1371641192-front-cover.jpg[/img]Releasing/Participating Studio(s): 20th Century Fox/Relativity Media
Disc/Transfer Information: Region 1; Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Tested Audio Track: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Director: Robert Luketic
Starring Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Lucas Till, Embeth Davidtz, Amber Heard, Richard Dreyfuss
IN A WAR BETWEEN KINGS, EVEN A PAWN CAN CHANGE THE GAME.
Based on a novel of the same name, Paranoia takes the genre that was made vastly more interesting by entries such as The Firm – that is, industrial espionage-esque thrillers – and turns it into a mere vehicle by which Chris “Thor” Hemsworth’s brethren could be catapulted into the spotlight. Lacking conviction, any sense of dread or tension and plodding along so slowly and shallowly that it made the 90 minute running time feel like three hours, Paranoia was difficult to follow (unless you’re a complete techno-geek that understands all the things being discussed in its subtext) and what’s worse makes you feel as if your life is really meaningless unless you work for one of these super corporations that design mobile devices and computers of the future. It boasts some stellar names on its roster beyond Liam Hemsworth (trying to make a name for himself) including Gary Oldman, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford and Embeth Davidtz – not to mention the gorgeous and eye-opening Amber Heard – but for all its talent on display, the film just falls flat; I don’t even know where to begin.
First of all, we have a sickly-looking Harrison Ford (this guy really does look and sound as if he’s ill, in real life, and I hope that isn’t the case) playing the owner of a giant technology company who spends his weekends in the Hamptons and rolls into work and out to lunch in a chauffeured Bentley. His bitter rival, Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman), also owns a technology empire across the way in New York City, the two men obviously having a history with one another in terms of secrets, lies and trade spying. Splintering into their lives comes Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) who takes an entry-level job at Wyatt’s company and who presents the billionaire owner with a conceptual idea – along with his young team of fellow techno-geeks – about a cell phone that will transform the whole social media industry. Wyatt, the arrogant snob that he is, basically fires Cassidy and his whole team on the spot for “wasting his time” with a product that he feels is ridiculously obsolete, but when the team goes out that night and parties hard on Wyatt’s company credit card dime at a New York nightclub and the bill gets back to the billionaire, Cassidy is immediately dragged in the next day by Wyatt’s guard dog Miles Meechum (Fantastic 4’s Julian McMahon). At the club, Cassidy makes eye contact on the dance floor with the gorgeous and exotic Emma Jennings (Amber Heard), having a one-night-stand with the sultry minx and eventually coming to know her much more intimately later on. When Adam is dragged in to Wyatt’s office and presented with evidence that he used the company expenses to party on their night of being let go – in front of Wyatt’s second-in-command Judith Bolton (Embeth Davidtz) – the young visionary is basically given a choice: Go to jail for misuse of company funds or help Wyatt’s company basically spy on Goddard’s company and retain secrets about a certain technology.
The whole thing begins to spiral into familiar territory set forth, as I stated, by films like The Firm – Cassidy is set up in his own luxury New York apartment, groomed by Bolton to look the part of a rich new employee at Goddard’s firm and instructed in the ways of espionage – at the corporate level. Before he knows it, Cassidy meets back up with Emma, who happens to work for Goddard as well, and the whole thing, as you can imagine, gets complicated. But not as complicated as when Cassidy discovers Wyatt’s people have bugged his luxury digs with cameras and mics that watch and listen to everything he does. Meanwhile, Cassidy’s father Frank (Richard Dreyfuss), at home requiring oxygen treatments, gets a visit from FBI agent Gamble (Josh Holloway) and Adam eventually arrives home to meet the agent who presents him with photos of the last few people the FBI claim “worked” for Wyatt…and who wound up brutally murdered. Obviously, Wyatt is dirty and so is his company (didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out) but even when faced with the possibility of being killed by his former boss, Cassidy refuses to help the FBI.
Cassidy is hired as the new top gun in Goddard’s arsenal, getting a skyline view luxury office of his own and impressing his new boss to the point he joins Goddard, Emma and others in Goddard’s Hamptons retreat one weekend. All the while Emma and Adam continue their sultry romance, finding refuge at Emma’s New York apartment for some romantic interludes that are pretty steamy. As the plot prods on, Adam’s friends and co-workers from his stint at Wyatt’s company, including Allison (Angela Sarafyan) and Morgan (William Peltz), grow separated from their old companion as he takes his new shiny job at Goddard’s multi-billion-dollar corporation – but all the while really “working” for Wyatt – until Morgan approaches him and asks if he can get him an interview with the company. When Adam begins stalling in his spy duties, Wyatt’s henchman Miles threatens him by warning he’ll harm his friends or even his girlfriend Emma if he doesn’t deliver what they need. He makes good on his threat when Morgan is mowed down by a speeding car on a New York City street one afternoon, putting him in the hospital but not killing him.
Having enough and seeing who these people really are, Cassidy decides to fight back by smashing all the surveillance gear in his apartment and coming up with a plan to bring down both Wyatt and Goddard together with the help of his ex-coworkers. But before that happens, Cassidy is caught with his hand in the cookie jar – after an intimate evening with Emma, he steals her security entry device so he can slip into the catacombs of Goddard’s corporation, looking for the data Wyatt demanded he get. Before he can escape, Goddard and his security team catch him – and we learn that Goddard knew who Adam was all along (a spy for Wyatt) because every conversation the two ever had was bugged. Enraged, Goddard demands Adam and Wyatt meet him the next day for a sit down to figure out how all this industrial espionage is going to play out – Goddard claims he was always on top of Wyatt and the whole industry, the two corporate empire narcissists arguing back and forth until Adam somehow presents proof that both Goddard and Wyatt are guilty. The FBI breaks in and Wyatt is arrested for putting Adam undercover as an industrial spy while Goddard gets arrested for…oh, does it really matter? The final sequence of the film gets even more unfeasible when Adam starts up his own technology company in Brooklyn with the help of his friends and hires Emma on when she’s looking for a job (you know, because her boss’ company was shut down by the feds). Really? And where did he get the money to do so? It can be suggested he pocketed the $500K (if you see the film you’ll know what I mean) but can half a million dollars start up a company anywhere in New York? I hardly think so.
The acting here wasn’t memorable to say the least, save for maybe Oldman’s rendition of Wyatt – he plays the role with a steely, mean arrogance that really makes us believe he’s a corporate cutthroat raider; Hemsworth, meanwhile, was absolutely forgettable and was obviously put here to wow the young ladies that may watch this and swoon over his looks and to get Amber Heard’s heart racing, as you can clearly see she enjoyed the intimacy scenes with Hemsworth. Where Chris steals the scenery in films like Thor, Liam just doesn’t have the acting chops to match in my opinion; this kid, as the lead no less, was not memorable nor convincing as he moved in and out of nearly every scene in Paranoia. Oldman really carried the show as even Harrison Ford appeared tired, annoyed and out of place in his role as the slightly demented billionaire. In the end, Paranoia came off like the myriad of forgettable films that have come and gone as of late; I suppose it’s worth a quick rental if there’s nothing else available but I don’t see it as a purchase, I’m sorry friends.
[img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-EscH7MSOxvM/UfizIpHnjzI/AAAAAAAAAGk/RqAxkItHqRg/s1600/115698.jpg[/img]VIDEO QUALITY ANALYSIS: HOW DID THE DISC LOOK?
Arriving on standard DVD for me to review, Paranoia as distributed by 20th Century Fox and Relativity Media looked pretty swell for standard definition. The 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer appeared high-definition-like in many places, including close-ups of faces and skin textures, but was sometimes dampened by an inherent softness so typical of the DVD format. What I did notice – yet again – was occasional aliasing problems in which the edges of certain objects such as furniture or eyeglasses were riddled with stair-stepped jagged edges; this has been a problem with a few newer DVDs I’ve watched via my OPPO Blu-ray player and it’s very strange because the Anchor Bay chipset in the player is supposed to be among the best on the market (and one of the primary reasons I chose it as my reference deck when I replaced by Panasonic DMP-BD10A which boasted horrendous DVD upconversion). I’m going to attempt to contact OPPO about this recurring problem, but I needed to point it out as I did notice the aliasing when I played Paranoia.
Other than that, the disc looked great – noise-free visuals combined with solid blacks and twitchless elements to give the transfer a stable look, while colors remained naturally saturated with no issues of bleeding or combing. One scene in particular impressed me in this regard for standard DVD which involved Liam Hemsworth’s character going to Harrison Ford’s character’s corporate headquarters to steal the data…in this sequence the building’s security lights bathe the hallways and rooms in a deep, rich red hue that was really torture for a display to handle. But even via upscaled DVD, the red never bled, pulsated or broke into pixilated noise. Very impressive.
[img] http://www.blogcdn.com/news.moviefone.com/media/2013/06/screen-shot-2013-06-06-at-12.45.41-pm.png[/img]AUDIO QUALITY ANALYSIS: HOW DID THE DISC SOUND?
Paranoia’s Dolby Digital 5.1 track on the Region 1 DVD in English was pretty impressive. From the very start, the mix was open, airy, engaging and aggressive if a bit shy and lean in the surround channel department. Dialogue was rendered in a very refreshing, clear fashion that merely got clearer as the master volume was raised; left to right panning across the front soundstage was predominantly the element on display here but this was a satisfying mix unfortunately for a substandard motion picture (isn’t this always the case?).
Please discuss if you’ve seen it or plan to!