"Paranoia" - The Seven Stages Of Movie Boredom

Stage one. A wandering mind. Twenty minutes into “Paranoia,” I unconsciously began going through my schedule for the following day. The images in front of me, already as compelling as staring down a wall, became exactly that – a surface on which to project the arbitrary thoughts rattling around in my brain. As Liam Hemsworth’s white guy (I think “white guy” is the name of the character) gave a speech to his super cranky, super British cell phone exec boss-slash-rich guy (played by Gary Oldman), all I could think was, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I drafted a kicker in the first round of my fantasy football draft?”

Stage two. The realization of boredom. As quickly as I checked out of the film, I became aware that it had lost me. “This never happens to me,” I thought. It takes a special kind of film to lose me immediately, and “Paranoia,” a particularly sad espionage thriller with very little espionage and zero thrills, did just that. For a film centered on dueling tech billionaires (the other played by a typically sleepy Harrison Ford), the picture inexcusably plays like one long, tedious cell phone commercial from an advertising firm that’s under the impression that cell phones are some exotic sci-fi contraption that only exist in Philip K. Dick novels.

Stage three. Misplaced hope. “Maybe all this set-up is building towards something more interesting. Maybe it’ll get better.” Translation – “Oh God, this is going to get worse, isn’t it?” The combative relationship between Hemsworth’s brash youngling and Oldman’s shopworn slimeball inexplicably leads to the latter hiring the former to steal trade secrets from Ford’s character. Because when you hate someone so much, you obviously should trust them to do your most evil bidding. My favorite scene in the film depicts an intense stare down between Hemsworth and Oldman, during which they’re literally playing chess. Excellent work, screenwriters!

Stage four. Disbelief. Amber Heard plays Hemsworth’s snarky, worldly love interest, always one step ahead of him, until Hemworth’s betrayal renders her a sobbing, helpless mess of a damsel distressed. Her character’s half-assed arc is indicative of the project’s general lack of zeal, director Robert Luketic (“21”) doing nothing beyond his contractual obligations (which presumably read, “Um, make a movie, I guess”).

Stage five. “OH GOD, JUST END ALREADY.” “Paranoia” looks like a movie – sets, actors (including a woefully misused Richard Dreyfuss as Hemsworth’s ailing father), and dialogue. It’s not poorly made, nor is it plagued by the kinds of technical issues that you might expect from such an inert film. But it’s without the smallest trace of vitality, lacking the human element that that makes film an inherently interesting medium. Audiences starved for stimulation might find its mere existence a saving grace, but it elicited powerful feelings of boredom in me, matched only by one or two other films I’ve seen this year. Another strike against “Paranoia?” It reminded me that “Broken City” exists.

Stage six. “Acceptance.” I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the basis of my movie boredom model, the Kubler-Ross model, commonly known as “the five stages of grief.” While the two models certainly share commonalities, the mere reality of the Kubler-Ross model aids in the acceptance of a boring movie. “At least my cat didn’t die,” you might think to yourself while watching “Paranoia.” And thus, your awful moviegoing experience is put in the proper perspective.

Stage seven. “Well, at least it wasn’t as boring as ‘Paranoia.'” Note – this step does not apply if you’ve just seen “Paranoia.”

-J. Olson

Rating: ★ 1/2 out of ★★★★★ (Bad)

Release Date: August 16, 2013
Studio: Relativity Media
Director: Robert Luketic
Screenwriter: Jason Hall, Barry L. Levy
Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman, Amber Heard, Harrison Ford, Lucas Till, Embeth Davidtz, Julian McMahon, Josh Holloway, Richard Dreyfuss
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for some sexuality, violence and language)