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Paranoia: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Review

Paranoia (2013) movie poster Paranoia

Theatrical Release: August 16, 2013 / Running Time: 106 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Robert Luketic / Writers: Joseph Finder (novel); Jason Hall, Barry L. Levy (screenplay)

Cast: Liam Hemsworth (Adam Cassidy), Gary Oldman (Nicolas Wyatt), Amber Heard (Emma Jennings), Harrison Ford (Jock Goddard), Lucas Till (Kevin), Embeth Davidtz (Dr. Judith Bolton), Julian McMahon (Miles Meachum), Josh Holloway (Agent Gamble), Richard Dreyfuss (Frank Cassidy), Angela Sarafyan (Allison), Will Peltz (Morgan), Haley Finnegan (Chelsea), Kevin Kilner (Tom Lungren), Christine Marzano (Nora Summers), Charlie Hofheimer (Richard McAllister), Mark Moses (Dr. Butson)

Buy Paranoia from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy DVD Instant Video

To most of us, $7,385,015 sounds like a lot of money. To the film industry, that's a pretty solid domestic gross for an indie film in limited release. For Paranoia, a PG-13 thriller released to nearly 2,500 theaters, it's a disaster.
Among 2013 films released to 2,000 or more theaters, this $35 million-budgeted production ranks dead last in earnings, trailing such quickly-forgotten non-starters as Machete Kills, Sylvester Stallone's Bullet to the Head, Battle of the Year, and the anthology comedy Movie 43.

After scoring a lowly 4% on Rotten Tomatoes (with a perfect 0% approval from top critics), Paranoia opened quietly, taking 13th place in its first weekend in the middle of the typically uncompetitive month of August. It fell fast, tumbling 63% in its second weekend. That led to it losing 2,067 of its initial 2,459 theaters at the start of its third weekend, usually the earliest that theaters can opt to stop showing a movie. Only eleven movies have ever lost as many theaters in their third weekends and they represent some of the biggest flops and critical failures in modern cinema, including Jonah Hex, Gigli and Eddie Murphy's Meet Dave.

Circumstance requires Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) engage in corporate espionage in the PG-13 thriller "Paranoia."

Paranoia gives The Hunger Games' Liam Hemsworth his first lead role and adult character. He plays Adam Cassidy, a 27-year-old still expecting to rise from cubicle drone at Wyatt Mobile, a New York City telecommunications giant. Adam and his friends/colleagues pitch some new technology to the company's namesake, Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman), only to be flat out rejected and fired on the spot. Adam decides to lift the group's spirits by using his not yet deactivated company credit card to fund a leisurely night out on the town.

Soon after, Adam is called in and asked to account for the $16,000 tab he inexplicably racked up with his four friends. Wyatt and his most trusted associates (Embeth Davidtz, Julian McMahon) give the young man just one opportunity to settle his bill. They train him to engage in a bit of corporate espionage at Eikon, a competitor run by Wyatt's former mentor, Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford). Wyatt's people set up Adam with a ridiculously lavish three-story apartment and a new car. He does the rest, intending to gather information on the Occura, the game-changing next generation of cell phone that Goddard has been developing.

Adam comes to realize he's deeply involved in a conspiracy that holds serious and potentially lethal consequences for him, his emphysemic father (Richard Dreyfuss), and his one-night stand turned girlfriend and Eikon colleague, Emma (Amber Heard). His privacy shattered and his options running out, Adam finds himself a pawn in a high-stakes game between two old adversaries.

As Jock Goddard, Harrison Ford sports a haircut so short he nearly looks bald. As English CEO Nicolas Wyatt, Gary Oldman doesn't need the Russian accent with which he last squared off with Harrison Ford.

Based on a bestselling 2004 novel by Joseph Finder, Paranoia offers a teenager-oriented understanding of adulthood. Just 22 during filming, Hemsworth feels like he's playing grown-up.
His broad shoulders prove unable to carry all the weight this clunky film puts upon them. Though his American accent is fine, this Hemsworth is a weak leading man, whose acting is at its strongest when he resembles his more famous older brother Chris (a.k.a. the mighty Thor).

The portrayal of the working world is simplistic and dumb. It seems alluring enough, making a living in an enormous high-tech skyscraper in the heart of New York City and only needing some corny banter to re-bed the sexy Yale-educated executive. The next morning, said executive enters the shower covering herself with a blanket, allowing just enough time for our stealthy protagonist to transfer a couple of GB of trade secrets to a memory stick. Wyatt's people already have unlimited access to Adam's world, as they infiltrate his television and surveil his father.

At the beginning of his seventies, Harrison Ford finally seems open to the idea of experimenting with different looks and playing different characters. As Goddard, he sports an almost non-existent short haircut. Though he makes a decent effort, Ford's such an old school figure that it's tough to believe he understands a word of the technical talk coming out of his mouth. Surely, such a legend must be offered better material than this. One assumes Gary Oldman is too, although perhaps the chances to butt heads with Ford once again (however briefly) and not hide his English accent were of some appeal. The other highly accomplished cast member, Dreyfuss, seems to have lost his touch. His portly, old, randy minor character seems to be in a different movie than anyone else. Not that it much matters, as neither movie is any good.

Adam somehow suddenly becomes an action hero who can take down teams of security guards in sequences boasting "Kyle XY" levels of intrigue and sophistication. Director Robert Luketic dabbled in comparable genre fare in 21 with mildly agreeable results. But his stock seems to be taking a dive between his previous effort, the Katherine Heigl/Ashton Kutcher action-comedy Killers, and this. The $35 M budget is ample for suitable polish and corporate production design, but neither Luketic nor his screenwriters (Vantage Point's Barry L. Levy and Spread's Jason Dean Hall) have any sense as to how to tell this story in a compelling way. They refuse to go the mindless, adrenaline-pumping Michael Bay route but also stay far away from the comparably high-minded approach of a taut John Grisham thriller. As such, they'll probably only win the approval of 13-year-old girls who think Hemsworth is cute and aren't big on closely following or caring about a story.

Three months after it began selling fewer than a million tickets nationwide, Paranoia hit DVD and Blu-ray combo pack this week distributed by Relativity Media's home video partner 20th Century Fox.

Paranoia: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Combo Pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: November 19, 2013
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (1 BD-50 & 1 DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as DVD ($29.98 SRP) and on Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The movie may have its share of problems, but the Blu-ray transfer is just about perfect. The 2.40:1 video stays clean, sharp, and nicely detailed throughout. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio also makes a good impression on the viewer, utilizing the full soundfield and in an even, fitting fashion.

"Privacy Is Dead" hopes to convince you of that with frightening facts like this. Despite the earring and the significantly younger wife, a fully-haired Harrison Ford reveals he acts his age when it comes to keeping off of social networking. No Twitter for him!

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's all-HD extras begin with four deleted scenes (4:48) which show Adam and his friends getting fired, two bar scenes of exposition over Adam's employment status, and a work encounter between Adam and Emma.

"Privacy Is Dead" (6:00) elaborates on the movie's themes with some alarming figures and cast and crew comments. Though the surveillance camera angles to the interviews are a clever touch, this technology fear mongering is nothing new.

"The Paranoia Begins" (5:50) discusses the film's subjects, from corporate espionage to millennials, and their roots in reality.

"The Players" (5:23) reminds us that there are some major actors involved in this film. The cast discusses the characters and speaks highly of one another.

Finally, Paranoia's theatrical trailer (2:24) is kindly included.

Fox seems to be the only studio these days authoring separate DVDs for combo pack inclusion. This one places digital copies in two different formats alongside the movie and no other bonus features. You don't appear to be losing anything from the DVD sold on its own, however, because its case indicates that it is an entirely barebones disc.

The Blu-ray opens with trailers for Out of the Furnace, The Family, Don Jon, and The Wolverine. (The DVD loses The Wolverine trailer and adds a promo for the Blu-ray Experience.) The BD's Sneak Peek section doesn't hold any of these, but instead previews of Runner Runner, "Graceland": Season 1, and "The Americans": Season 1, as does the DVD along with making The Wolverine trailer available from the menu.

Each disc's menu places a listing of bars over a dramatically scored montage of clips. Not authored as well as Fox's Blu-rays for their own movie, this one fails both to resume playback and support bookmarks.

The two discs share an eco-friendly blue keepcase, joined by a digital copy insert and topped by a plain slipcover enlarging the same artwork below.

In a major coincidence, Adam finds himself working under Emma Jennings (Amber Heard), a drunken one-night stand. Liam Hemsworth bears virtually no resemblance to Richard Dreyfuss, who plays his sickly father Frank.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Not exciting enough to be a big dumb action movie and not clever enough to be anything else, Paranoia will disappoint most who see it. Not many are choosing to do that, as the film will go down as one of 2013's most resounding flops.

This combo pack's Blu-ray delivers fine picture and sound, average extras, and subpar disc authoring. It's a set you'd likely regret buying at any price and never feel compelled to revisit.

Buy Paranoia from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Liam Hemsworth: The Hunger Games The Last Song | Amber Heard: And Soon the Darkness The Rum Diary Drive Angry
Harrison Ford: 42 Extraordinary Measures Morning Glory Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures
Gary Oldman: Red Riding Hood Lawless The Dark Knight Rises Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Directed by Robert Luketic: 21 | Written by Barry L. Levy: Vantage Point | Richard Dreyfuss: Jaws The Lightkeepers Piranha
The Conversation The Game Enemy of the State Wall Street The Firm Disturbia Eagle Eye
New: We're the Millers Violet & Daisy Ambushed | 2013 Flops: Getaway Movie 43 Dead Man Down

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Reviewed November 21, 2013.



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