Let me just preface this by saying that no one was more pumped than I was to see Paranoia, the new tech-thriller that stars the likes of Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford, Amber Heard, and Gary Oldman. That’s because I generally really enjoy movies of the thriller genre and the cast of this particular one is especially talented. So you can imagine my surprise when, about thirty-five minutes in, I realized that this movie isn’t at all what I’d hoped it would be. What it wants to be is the kind of movie that has your eyes darting back and forth across the screen, just narrowly keeping up with everything while simultaneously trying to regulate your heartbeat. What it actually is, is one of the most unexpectedly comedic movies that I have ever seen. And I watch a lot of Lifetime movies, which should really put that into perspective for you.
Paranoia tells the story of Nicholas Wyatt (Oldman) and Jock Goddard (Ford), two rivals and former partners who are fighting each other tooth and nail to stay relevant in the tech industry. While they both run successful billion-dollar corporations, the men are just overflowing with greed and are obsessed with the potential to always have more power and more money than the other. This preoccupation leads to Nicholas Wyatt putting up Adam Cassidy (Hemsworth), one of his more ambitious lower-level employees, to infiltrate his rival’s company to spy and steal prototypes and other tech-y things. I should remind you that espionage is not only just a fancy French word, but it is also a federal crime. And also, people don’t take too kindly to other people stealing their stuff from right under their noses, which is when everything gets a bit hairy for all parties involved. If that sentence sounds like I’m about to give away some spoilers, it’s probably because I am.
On paper (computer screen?) you might be just as fooled by that synopsis as I was and prepare yourself for an intense movie-watching experience. If that is the case, then the joke’s on you, sucker, because you’ll leave end this movie having received a lot less thrills than laughs. Lots and lots of laughs. Maybe so many laughs that you will spontaneously laugh loudly in the silent, dark theater every four or five minutes, like the woman two seats down from me because you find everything that is happening in front of you so ridiculous. This, as it turns out, is not really the desired response to a movie that includes “high-stakes” in its descriptor. But it was the reaction, nonetheless.
So, here are the 5 things about this movie that made me, and the rest of my theater, laugh out loud.
1. The Writing Is So Very Clichéd
What do you get when you cross a high-achieving young woman who, despite her success, still feels inadequate with an inexperienced, but arrogant, young man? You get the entirety of these character’s personalities, that’s what. The laundry list of this movie’s predictabilities is very long and includes overused story lines, like “poor boy tries to get rich girl,” “girl and boy fall in love after meeting via a drunken one-night stand,” and, my personal favorite, “protagonist finds a way to get all of the bad guys to end up in jail but he gets a plea deal.”
2. The Writing Is, Also, Just Not Very Good
I feel like every line of dialogue was subject to a mini-checklist to make sure that it included at least a noun, a verb, an adjective, and a technological term. I recognize the efforts to make the characters seem like they know what they are talking about and my response to that is: sorry, guys, it did the exact opposite.
3. Gratuitously Shirtless Liam Is Gratuitous
I thought it would be a fun game to count how many times Liam took off his shirt for a reason that falls into the category of: gotta reel in the female viewers to, what we expect will be, a predominantly male audience! I tallied six times, if you include the wrestling scene where his shirt gets lifted and the scene where he’s wearing a tiny wife beater. It was cool for my eyes but my brain was like, “Okay, I get it, he has muscles.”
4. Liam Hemsworth And Amber Heard Have No Chemistry
This really can’t be stressed enough. Their relationship is effectively half of the plot-driving conflict so it really sucks when it feels like they’ve just met in the grocery store for the entire movie. You saw The Last Song; you know real-deal chemistry when you see it covered in mud in the back of a pickup truck together. And yes, Miley Cyrus did have to make an appearance in this post, who’s asking?
5. The Inexplicable Murder Plot
Probably the most unintentionally funny thing about this movie is that a threat of murder appears literally out of nowhere. Before Gary Oldman’s character, Wyatt, threatens to kill everyone Adam loves, there isn’t any indication that this is even a thought. It’s very important that I remind you that Adam’s task is to swipe some software from Goddard’s company. Software. And because he doesn’t do it quickly enough, Wyatt’s like, “well, I guess it’s about that time that I send my guys to chase him through the city and try to kill his best friend!” Because that’s not ridiculous at all. Right.
If you’d like to see for yourself how hilarious this movie actually is, or want to yell at me about how wrong I am, you can go see Paranoia in theaters today, August 16th.