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“Paranoia” is the perfect name for a thriller about how our smart phones are outsmarting us. A star vehicle for “The Other Hemsworth” (“Hungers Games” Liam, not brother Thor, um — Chris), it features a couple of chewy scenes pitting Harrison Ford against Gary Oldman — two old men grappling with one another for control of the obsession of the young — their phones.
Sadly, it is as slow, slick and superficial as the director of “21″ and “Killers” can make it.
Hemsworth is Adam, a low level apps innovator bribed and blackmailed into corporate espionage by one cell phone mogul — Oldman — into stealing from his old mentor, another mogul (Ford).
Amber Heard is the dishy marketing guru Adam must betray. Richard Dreyfuss is the sickly father always dozing through ballgames who is the reason Adam is desperate for cash. He wakes up long enough to ask, “You want to tell me what’s going on?”
The story, based on a Joseph Finder novel, takes a very long time to get up to speed. There’s all this thinly atmospheric filler about surveillance — the ways our phones track us, the “security” that they provide and that is so easily hacked, the sinister and even lethal people misusing all this data.
One of the nifty plot devices is Adam’s unheralded gift for instantly figuring out the pass code to any phone he picks up, handy when you’re infiltrating a paranoid corporation whose latest phone innovation will “start a revolution.”
Oldman channels the Cockney Michael Caine in the way he uses “Old Son” as the punchline to many a put-down.
“You want to see how the other half lives? We ARE the other half, Old Son!”
The laziest scripts on Earth over-explain themselves, starting with redundant voice-over narration (let the situations and characters explain themselves) and finishing with the weariest truisms, bromides and rules to live by.
“Be careful what you wish for…If you let no one in, you get burned by no one” and “You have to fit in to get in.”
Maybe those lines will seem fresh to the younger target audience “Paranoia” aims for.
Director Robert Luketic’s team flashes the cash in this heady world Adam infiltrates — stunning apartments, collectible sports cars, designer clothes, exotic offices with sci-fi level security systems.
Which Adam, who is fired for being a third-rate thinker at one cell phone company, somehow figures out how to foil on his way to tidying up this messy double-and-triple-dealing tale with a nice bow at the end.
Yeah, your phone may be your undoing — eating your wallet, revealing your secrets, causing you to wreck your car or walk in front of a bus while lost in texting. That’s enough to make you paranoid. This movie? Not so much.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexuality, violence and language
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Amber Heard, Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford
Credits: Directed by Robert Luketic, written by Jason Hall Dean and Barry Levy, based on the Joseph Finder novel. A Relativity release.
Running time: 1:46