An entry-level employee at a powerful corporation finds himself occupying a corner office, but at a dangerous price - he must spy on his boss’s old mentor to secure for him a multi-billion dollar advantage.
Year 3, Film #19
THE GOOD: One of the only things that Paranoia has going for it is a very minimal level of action and suspense. Basically, you can watch this film all the way through and keep a certain level of attention focused on it. Not your complete attention in some places as the film has many flaws which I’ll uncover, but more than enough to keep you satisfied. In other words, there’s enough happening in front of you that you don’t need to resort to your phone every five minutes to keep yourself occupied.
This action and suspense is some of your typical chases, explosions, and whatnot combined with that probing question of what’s going to happen next (although the answer is usually easy to predict). An element that I found interesting however was being held in suspense to see if the film would get better. As I’ve alluded to already, this film is nowhere near perfect. But it’s not bad enough to be a bad film. There’s a small part of you that’s rooting for some switch to be flipped, some major twist revealed that you could never see coming to redeem the film. Unfortunately that never comes, but the fact of the matter is this anticipation, this hope for a better film, actually provides a good amount of entertainment. If you’re like me, you’ll give some things the benefit of the doubt and overlook others and being an ok film at best helps you to overlook those things.
THE BAD: The simplest explanation of Paranoia is that it’s simply not good. It’s unoriginal characters and a story that feels like a cookie-cutter template in more ways than one. Not only did the rivalry between Nick Wyatt (Gary Oldman) and his ex-mentor Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford) bring forth memories about Steve Jobs and Apple (they’re designing phones, they’re quite ruthless, “great artists steal”, etc.), but the whole premise of infiltrating another company to steal trade secrets has been done many times in multiple variations.
Paranoia could be classified as a heist film or a thriller, but it’s really neither of those things. It’s just a faded image of those genres aspiring to be more than it is. The heist part — Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) stealing trade secrets from Eikon — is very lackluster and anti-climatic. The thriller part — all the technical babble, hacking, and spying — is also sub par. We never really get a sense of what’s going on or a feeling of urgency when things happen. Every once and a while there will be a chase or some action sequence (which I mentioned provides a brief moment of entertainment), but you never feel connected with these characters or feel the magnitude of what’s going on.
The characters don’t help you grasp the enormity of what’s going on either. You can tell them apart and each has their own distinct characteristics, but much of what you learn about these characters is surface-level. You never really get the chance to understand or relate to the characters. One great example is with Goddard who lost his son, and Cassidy who lost his mother. These are very emotional events in both their lives and when introduced to us, it seems like the key into who these characters are. But all we end up getting is one or two minutes explaining that they lost their respective loved ones and how it was a tragedy. No emotion to it whatsoever, no big revelations that impact the story down the road. It’s just presented to you and then left.
THE TAKEAWAY: Paranoia has some action and some suspense, but most of the film is just waiting and hoping it will turn out better than it does. The story and characters don’t go anywhere and for the most part are unoriginal ideas that have been repurposed with a new coat of paint.
THE RATING: 2 out of 5