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film review

Paranoia,  an American thriller film directed by Robert Luketic, starring Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman, Amber Heard and Harrison Ford.

Corporate thrillers just aren't what they used to be. In the genre's heyday, movies such as Wall Street and The Firm were really wish-fulfillment fantasies barely disguised as morality tales. Their post-2008-crash descendants, such as Margin Call, are more akin to disaster movies.

Which brings us to the peculiar Paranoia. Based on a nine-year-old thriller by Joseph Finder, this is an analogue thriller pitched to a fluid digital generation. Liam Hemsworth, the handsome star from The Hunger Games, plays a young tech whiz, Adam Cassidy, who gets blackmailed into corporate espionage while trying to support his emphysema-suffering dad (Richard Dreyfuss). Hemsworth has little of that brash edge that Charlie Sheen and Tom Cruise brought to their roles a few decades ago. He does take his shirt off a lot though; then again, in this emptily handsome movie, even the FBI agents and thugs look like Abercrombie & Fitch models.

The biggest problem is that Paranoia is a thriller for the wrong kind of business. Instead of the laid-back open-concept spaces of West Coast start-ups, we are placed in the rigid hierarchy of the New York financial sector, with high-rises, corner offices, tailored suits and oak-panelled private clubs, in businesses run by old guys.

The two big-shot tech rivals are played by Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman, though there is something to be said for poetic licence. Oldman, as Nicolas Wyatt, is a tart-tongued Cockney tough in a suit who acts as though his favourite contemporary technology would be a switchblade. Wyatt blackmails Adam into infiltrating a rival company, Eikon, run by Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford). Adam is carefully groomed for the task by Wyatt's icy henchwoman, played by Embeth Davidtz ("I have a PhD in behavioural psychology"), who dresses him up in nice clothes and provides him with a gorgeous condo and hot car.

There's a minor hitch when Adam discovers that Eikon's head of marketing is Emma Jennings (the largely wasted Amber Heard), a recent awkward one-night stand. But soon he's swilling champagne in the Hamptons with his new boss, Jock Goddard. As played by Ford, Goddard looks somewhat plausible, with a shaved head, glasses and casual clothes that evoke the late Apple chief Steve Jobs.

More importantly, Ford has some real fun in a silly role, pirouge

as a shrewd old puppet master who wants to whip these young upstarts. There's a scene in a members-only club where Wyatt and Goddard meet, giving the two veteran actors the chance to go eyeball to eyeball for a couple of minutes of barbed dialogue. It almost makes the movie worth it.

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