*1/2 (out of four)
Destined to be started but not finished by Netflix streaming subscribers, "Paranoia" depicts a cutthroat community of so-called geniuses and then portrays nearly everyone as a fool. If this laughable excuse for a thriller quickens your pulse, please consult your doctor.
In a world that apparently contains only two phone companies, rival executives Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) and Jock Goddard (Oldman's "Air Force One" foil Harrison Ford) strive to make the smartest smartphone at any cost. Blackmailed after he charges a $16,000 bar tab to his former employer, Wyatt's recently-fired employee, Adam (Liam Hemsworth of "The Hunger Games"), agrees to infiltrate Eikon, Goddard's company, and find out why his new boss claims to be on the "eve of a revolution." Adam also discovers that his recent one-night stand (Amber Heard) works as Eikon's head of marketing, a coincidence whose resulting, underwritten romance provides more opportunities for the guy to walk around shirtless.
As if he wanted to make "Duplicity" but couldn't even do "Limitless," hack director Robert Luketic ("21," "The Ugly Truth") delivers zero tension and chase scenes that are funny instead of intense. Adam doesn't want to end up like his dad (Richard Dreyfuss), a motivation that's really driven home by the line, "I don't want to end up like you." The script, adapted from Joseph Finder's novel, also includes pathetic opening and closing voiceover and ruthlessness that makes no sense. Competitive urgency is one thing, but how many times can a desperate company kill its only chance of acquiring inside secrets?
Other unintentional laughs come from Adam claiming to be stuck in an entry-level role before getting face time with Wyatt and an FBI agent purporting to be part of its "criminal investigation division." Meanwhile, the film pushes female characters to the side or to the bedroom and perpetuates a technology-based tale of corporate espionage that's at best harmlessly dull and at worst moronic.
It should also be mentioned that "Paranoia" co-stars Lucas Till as Adam's pal and former co-worker, meaning that this movie features not one but two of Miley Cyrus' onscreen love interests (Hemsworth in "The Last Song" and Till in "Hannah Montana: The Movie"). I'd comment on her off-screen relationship with Hemsworth, but who knows or cares what's up with that right now.
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