- How a cybersecurity expert protects his smartphone
- ASC presents Take 6, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” Dec. 15
- Leeth named UAB School of Medicine assistant dean for strategic planning
- Coping with holiday grief
- New water plan saves big money
- Campus police offer holiday safety tips
- Alys Stephen Center Screens Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago
- Hospital feeds underprivileged new moms
- UAB’s Alys Stephens Center presents Yo-Yo Ma Dec. 6
- Southern Miss tops Blazers, 62-27, in season ending game
- Henry Panion selected for 2014 Alabama African-American History Calendar
- Enjoy Christmas at the Alys Dec. 2, “The Season’s First Jingle”
- Engineering’s Ning wins ASTM International award
- Collat School of Business unveils sign at celebration
- Heudebert elected master by American College of Physicians
It seems like an awful lot of movies are functioning as hodgepodge assemblies of other, better movies lately, and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. True, the smart ones know to steal from the best, but there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. “The Conjuring” would be a great example of how to do this approach justice, even more so in that it cost a relatively low amount of money (by Hollywood standards, of course) to make. “Paranoia” would be a perfect example of how not to do it, however.
To wit, add one part nice guy from low background gets seduced by a big city job with shady leanings: think “The Firm,” “Wall Street,” “The Devil’s Advocate” and so on. Add in a dollop of (naturally) paranoia, a la “The Conversation,” “The Net,” or “Eagle Eye.” And, of course, you’re going to want to sprinkle in a hot young star- here, it’s “Hunger Games” vet and erstwhile Miley Cyrus squeeze Liam Hemsworth- alongside some more seasoned thespians in the evil overseer roles, which, in this case, would be Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford as competing heads of computer conglomerates, a la Apple and Mac.
Last but certainly not least, you’re gonna want a pretty girl, with the option to make her good or bad- or two girls representing one of each, as the case may be. Here, they opt for a little of both, courtesy of Amber Heard. My longtime readers will recall I’m a huge fan of Heard’s, but this girl can’t catch a break to save her life. I mean, she’ll land roles alongside big name stars like Johnny Depp (“The Rum Diaries”) and Nicholas Cage (“Drive Angry”), or leads in TV shows (i.e. “The Playboy Club,” which really should have been a cable show), but the projects themselves are terrible.
Oftentimes, she’s the best thing in everything she does, and her very presence helps to elevate the crap around her, but all too often the projects she does are DOA. Sooner or later that’s going to catch up with her, and sadly, as someone pushing 30 (old by Hollywood standards), she may not get many more chances at the brass ring. That’s too bad, because on the few occasions she has actually been given something to work with- witness her go-for-broke turn in the underrated Bret Easton Ellis adaptation “The Informers” and her criminally under-seen, still-banned-in-the-States, titular role in the horror flick in “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane”- she’s knocked it out of the park. For the love of God, get this girl a quality movie before her chances dry up!
As it stands, Heard’s pretty much the best thing here, and she’s not even in it that much. She does more with a stereotypical girlfriend role than the movie deserves, but the movie would certainly suffer without her, that’s for sure. Sure, Oldman and Ford are great actors, but aside from the semi-novelty of seeing Ford play a character who may or may not be shady (which he’s done before, and better, in “What Lies Beneath”), there’s just not a lot to recommend here.
Hemsworth is likeable enough, to be sure, and has a natural charisma not unlike Chris Pine or Matt Damon that makes him succeed as an everyman-type despite unnaturally good looks. That’s half the battle if you want to succeed in Hollywood, but without the solid source material to back you up, it can all go horribly awry. Sure, “The Hunger Games” is a massive hit, but that’s Jennifer Lawrence’s show, not Hemsworth’s. What he needs, like Pine with “Star Trek” and Damon with the “Bourne” movies, is a solid tent-pole movie that elevates him to the status of something beyond Miley’s BF. This ain’t it.
I will say that I loved the soundtrack, by Junkie XL, which, like the one by members of Muse for “World War Z,” I might have actually liked more than the movie itself. It has a similar bent, in that both sound influenced by the great synth-driven soundtracks by Giorgio Moroder and Tangerine Dream in the late 70s and early 80s. Alongside “Drive,” these scores are amongst the most interesting I’ve heard in a long time. Pity most of the movies weren’t as good. (I did enjoy “Drive.”)
Beyond that, this is nothing you haven’t seen before. Hemsworth plays a guy who is sent by his former boss Oldman to infiltrate his rival and old friend Ford’s media empire to get the scoop on his latest iPhone style knock-off so that he can get the better of him. That’s really about it, plot-wise.
You can probably see the ending coming a mile away, and about the only moderately interesting thing is whether or not Heard will turn out to be good or bad. Everyone else pretty much wears their evil ambition on their sleeves, though I suppose Ford has the best poker face here. I’m not entirely convinced it isn’t just because he’s bored out of his mind and in it for the paycheck.
No doubt about it, there’s some talented people involved in this project, but I can’t in good faith recommend it as anything beyond a passable time-waster on cable, where it will inevitably end up. Honestly, I can’t even go so far as to recommend it as a rental, for that matter. Given all that, I’m giving it a C- overall, and the only reason I didn’t go lower was because of the score and Heard. That’s about the only thing worth hearing/seeing here, to be sure.