Movies: Paranoia

So back when I reviewed R.I.P.D., I mentioned that it had received 13% on Rotten Tomatoes while Paranoia had received 4%. And I had to wonder what could be worse than R.I.P.D. So last night I took the leap and watched Paranoia.

The movie features Liam Hemsworth (known in these parts as Not Chris Pine) as some kind of . . . something—and already the movie is falling apart because though NCP's character Adam works for a big mobile phone developer, it isn't clear what he does. It's his friend Kevin who makes stuff work in cool ways, so . . . What use is Adam to anyone? He spends the film as a patsy and a pawn, and though the writers tried really hard to make us care about Adam by piling on the sick dad and no mom and he's trying to help his friends and he falls in love with the girl . . . He's got no personality. And no function except as this pawn in two rich men's games.

The rich men are Gary Oldman as Nicolas Wyatt and Harrison Ford as Jock Goddard. There's a cliché backstory in which Wyatt was once Goddard's protégé and then went off to become his biggest competitor. Some bad blood about how Goddard was using all Wyatt's best ideas. The usual stuff.

Adam works for Wyatt for all of eleven minutes before he's fired for making an ass of himself in a presentation. He gets Kevin and the rest of his team fired too. Again, what is Adam's job exactly? Except "fuckup"? Who let him be team leader?

Then Adam makes the fantastic decision to take everyone on the team out on one last "discretionary fund" night on the town. Which of course gets him hauled into Wyatt's office under threats of prosecution for fraud. But Wyatt will let it all go, and will pay Adam lots of money besides, and give Adam's friends jobs again, if Adam will just get hired by Goddard and do a little spying.

If the character had been a woman, this is where there would have been a fun montage of shopping and makeovers. With guys, the whole makeover thing is far more sinister and a lot less entertaining.

You can imagine from here how the movie goes on; it's pretty standard fare. And I think that's the biggest problem with Paranoia—there is no paranoia, no tension; its great offense is how boring it is. Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford are in only a handful of scenes and probably did their filming inside of a week. (Side note: Oldman's lips are now so thin as to be almost completely gone. But NCP's lips are very thick. Does that balance things out? Is there a "lip quota" for Hollywood movies? Just something I noticed while being bored by the rest of the film.)

So is it worse than R.I.P.D.? No, just a different kind of bad. Both films are clichéd versions of their genres, but where R.I.P.D. was just inexcusably stupid, Paranoia was inexcusably dull. R.I.P.D. failed on character development; Paranoia tried to develop characters but they all came out flat. Both use well-known, older male stars as a big part of their "sell": Jeff Bridges (and perhaps by extension Kevin Bacon) in the one, Ford, Oldman, and Richard Dreyfuss in the other. But the material is lacking; these stars have nothing to do except chew scenery like so much cud and punch up the already boilerplate aspects of their characters. In the end the sum total for each comes to the same: neither movie is any good. Pick your poison. Or better yet, find something else to do.

1 comment:

sp said...

I still think you need to write a pilot for "Sinister Makeover".