Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Paranoia": a stereotyped thriller about industrial espionage, and the smartest possible phone. Just don't wear it on your bod.

Paranoia” seems like a stereotyped “B-movie” thriller about the highest tech world, but it does deal with some hot stuff.

Directed by Robert Luketic, with Australian backing, the film does present a stylized look at New York high corporate life.  Maybe it is appropriately cynical. It follows the conventional wisdom of screenwriting class and film school, to insurmountable crises, one after another, for the hero.

And indeed Australian born Liam Hemsworth, somewhat resembling Tom Welling, looks the part of Adam Cassidy, even if his acting style is a bit restrained.  More interesting is his slightly shorter friend Kevin, played by Lucas Till, who is even a better geek.  In fact, Till plays almost the same character that he did in “Crush”, if a little less obviously athletic.  And he has to overcome injury inflicted by the evil of others.

Another element of the plot is filial piety.  Adam takes care of his father (Richard Dreyfuss), half on oxygen but smoking while dying of emphysema. In an early episode, a health insurance company (pre-Obamacare) drops out of covering his care.  To a screenwriter, that sets up the urgency.  New York State, in fact, does not have a filial responsibility law.

So Adam gets set up when he gets fired after a presentation.  The boss, Wyatt (Gary Oldman) doesn’t have the class of Donald Trump, either.  I wondered if the name Wyatt came from the character (who burns his own oil well) in “Atlas Shrugged”.   Pretty soon Adam gets summoned off the NYC streets to go to work for competitor Jock Goddard (a bald Harrison Ford), in a big industrial espionage caper.  The advice is “don’t get caught”.

Yes, there’s a moral lesson here.  The people who play by the rules get run over by the cheaters (hedge fund managers).  There are no moral values, there are winners and losers – in Jock’s mind. 
The technology is freaky and interesting.  Do you want your smart phone to know everything about you?  (I wonder about electrocardiograms done by smart phone – can you really do one just by fingertip contact?   Can you do the Holter monitor without humiliating shaving?  Look here.)  

Look at the film a couple days ago, “Terms and Conditions”.  Remember the line, “They ‘trusted me’”
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But some of the scenes with the computers generate some suspense.  Can Adam get his wireless connection up fast enough and do a complicated flash drive download before his assigned girl friend gets out of the shower and catches him?  That part of the film was pretty accurate.  You have to be competent in bed in a spy job like this.

Adam is a competent chess player (they should have shown him play Lucas Till’s character – remember “Crush”).  In one scene, he loses a game white White where he has a rook and several pawns for Black’s Queen.  Larry Kaufman would have enjoyed the position (maybe out of that crazy sacrificial line from the Slav Defense).
   
And at the very end, Kevin (that is, Till), having recovered, hand writes some java code (a “method”) on a blackboard as if he were teaching a programming class.

The disco scene was interesting.  Could that have been he Culture Club?  
   
a “method”)

The official site is here from Relativity Media.  Yes, “I am Rogue.” The distributor didn’t publish the length of the film (about 100 minutes even).


I saw this film late in a small auditorium at the Regal Ballston tonight.  It seemed like a private showing just for me. Too much competition this week. 

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