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'Paranoia' review: Smartphones with a dumb plot

From left, Harrison Ford and Liam Hemsworth star

From left, Harrison Ford and Liam Hemsworth star in Relativity Media's "Paranoia" directed by Robert Luketic. Credit: Paranoia Productions

From its generic title to its preposterous plot, this techno-non-thriller wants to make a statement about the illusion of privacy in a world of location-tracking smartphones, data mining and blanketing surveillance cameras. And then it has a young tech executive marvel at how someone knew she went to Yale. Um, your own Facebook page?

"Paranoia" sees itself as a generational successor to Francis Ford Coppola's 1974 classic "The Conversation" (coincidentally also featuring Harrison Ford in a supporting role) and its 1998 sequel-in-spirit, "Enemy of the State." Yet filmmaker Robert Luketic, who directed "Legally Blonde" and went on to bad Katherine Heigl rom-coms ("The Ugly Truth," "Killers") and a bad thriller ("21"), here proves equally sludgy in romance and thrills.

Miscast heartthrob Liam Hemsworth stars as electronics engineer Adam Cassidy, a cubicle drone at a tech giant owned by Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman). Wyatt catches the just-fired Cassidy in the movie's first unbelievable plot turn -- racking up a $16,000 bar bill on a company credit card that this worldwide technology conglomerate somehow neglected to take back or cancel. Threatened with prison, Cassidy agrees to infiltrate Eikon, a company run by rival CEO Jock Goddard (Ford), to steal a game-changing smartphone prototype.

When step one of The Big Plan is having Eikon immediately hire Cassidy, you know the plot has more holes than a golf course. Why does Meachum (Julian McMahon), Wyatt's brutal yet completely ineffective enforcer, have his own name appear when phoning the undercover Cassidy at Goddard's mansion? Why does a domino-effect incident hinge on Cassidy's senior-citizen dad (Richard Dreyfuss) not being on Cassidy's health insurance? He'd be on Medicare, so what's the problem?

All these and other questions are accompanied by technobabble that would make a Trekker's head spin and voice-over narration that sounds like a parody of voice-over narration. And while the film contrives to show Hemsworth shirtless three times in the first half-hour, it's hard to imagine that either this or a romantic subplot with Eikon's marketing chief (Amber Heard) will bring a teen-girl audience to this film.

PLOT Young engineer is coerced into industrial espionage.


CAST Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman, Amber Heard, Harrison Ford


BOTTOM LINE You're not paranoid -- it really is bad.

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