Aquaman

Release: Friday, December 21, 2018

→Theater

Written by: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick; Will Beall

Directed by: James Wan

Four weeks on and the box office still hasn’t dried up for DC’s latest superhero origins story, the rise of one Arthur Curry, a.k.a. the Aquaman. Director James Wan has kinda done the unthinkable (not to mention given his bosses a nice Christmas present) by making a boatload of money — cracking the $1 billion mark this past weekend — with a movie that could not be more out of season. To me, a title like Aquaman screams summer blockbuster. Yet here we are in January, teeth chattering, talking about the highest-grossing DCEU film to date and the fifth-highest grossing film of 2018. Apparently, the fact that half the world still has months to go before they even start thinking about getting their beach bods back hasn’t been a factor.

Its release window isn’t the only thing whacky about Aquaman, a largely underwater-set action extravaganza starring Game of Thrones‘ Jason Momoa as the amphibious half-breed. Wan goes big on the special effects (as he always has, now just with more CGI pizzazz, and damn does this become a pretty thing to look at) but he goes pretty much all-out in trying to restore a little dignity to DC, proving his new employers aren’t nihilists obsessed with suffering. Aquaman embraces the absurdity inherent in its very existence, both in dialogue and in action, winking-and-nudging at the audience at every opportune moment — especially during those where bad guys are seen riding on souped-up seahorses, talking of uniting the Seven Seas and mounting an insurrection against those godless land-living creatures.

Aquaman certainly plays the part of a commercial-friendly summer winter blockbuster in terms of delivering big action spectacle, pounding the pavement immediately with an opening confrontation before moving on to successively bigger (and increasingly ridiculous) stand-offs that are as grand in scale as anything we have come across in the DCEU. If it isn’t Leviathan size, it’s the over-the-top masculinity of the combat scenes and the objects that are incorporated into them that make them larger than life — at one point I do believe the Fishboy can be seen conking an opponent on the noggin with the head of a missile. The fights are actually fairly clean — choreographically and just plain graphically — but what truly sets Aquaman apart in this regard is the exoticness of the locations, with half of the action taking place in ornate, gorgeously rendered submarine worlds where light refracts and splinters into shards of pale yellows and greens.

But (and here is the part where I expect to get laughed at) perhaps what is most unexpected from a DC film is the depth of the story, and I mean beyond the eyeball-popping pressures of the ocean bottom and gratuitous Amber Heard cleavage. (She plays Princess Mera, and aside from the predictably revealing outfits, this is probably her best role in years.) The thrust of the narrative concerns ideas of unity and cooperation and that works on scales both large and small. While the superhero thread follows the title character’s eventual acceptance of his status as a powerful leader, one who’s prophesied to bridge the two worlds (the land and the sea), the more human side finds Arthur struggling to come to terms with the consequences of his birth and the sacrifice his mother made in the interest of keeping her family safe.

As the mythology goes, Arthur is conceived out of a deep love between a human lighthouse keeper, Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison) and Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), the Queen of Atlantis, a once surface-level sovereignty now damned to the oceanic depths after a catastrophic meteor strike. As that opening fight scene reveals, Atlanna isn’t quite human. Her actions — falling in love with and marrying a human man with whom she conceives a child, who will possess the ability to communicate with all marine lifeforms — have made her a traitor to the people of Atlantis, and have earned the intense ire of Orm (Patrick Wilson), her other son and the current ruler of the aquatic civilization.

When Arthur comes of age and learns about his powers — fine-tuned with the guidance of trusted confidante Vulko (Willem Dafoe), also a ‘scientific advisor’ to King Orm — and what he represents to both sides, he of course does the very un-superheroic thing and hides away from the world, rejecting Atlantis and the very notion he can be a savior to all, including his own family. He isn’t entirely incapable of doing good deeds, as we observe in an early scene where he saves a gaggle of sailors from a Russian sub hijacking. In the process he also makes an enemy in David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), whose father Arthur mercilessly leaves to drown. Whoops.

Enter Princess Mera, who, despite this being the guy who actually defeated Steppenwolfe, begrudgingly convinces Arthur to return to Atlantis and face his half-brother, who has set his sights on the destruction of the surface world. Heard and Momoa share a playfully antagonistic chemistry that helps Aquaman stay afloat through its most silly moments. And while we’re on the subject, it is very awkward the way Wan crowbars in commentary on oceanic pollution in a film that really doesn’t want nor need to be taken seriously — that’s a reality that does need to be taken seriously, and inserting it here is more than corny, it’s disingenuous. As they embark on a globetrotting adventure to track down the Trident of Atlan, a powerful artifact that only the worthiest of Ocean Masters can wield, we endure the scorching heat of the Sahara Desert and then hop on over to the Italian isle of Sicily, experiencing setbacks (hello, Black Manta!) and personal revelations along the way.

Despite the patently absurd final battle and a few other sidebar items, at its core this is a family affair, with Arthur and Orm diametrically opposed in ideology yet almost one and the same in terms of conviction and what they are willing to sacrifice to win. Ultimately it is in Arthur’s longing for his parents to be together once more where Aquaman becomes arguably every bit the emotional journey as Diana Prince’s loss of innocence as depicted in Wonder Woman. His inner turmoil, expressed by a quite natural and earnest Momoa, help me more easily overlook the clunky narrative at-large, the predictable writing (who didn’t see that epic under-water kiss coming?) and cheesy dialogue: “Redheads, gotta love ’em!” [proceeds to throw self out of plane while a caged goat bleats in horror.]

Yes, Aquaman is conceptually whacky, narratively clunky and overly reliant on CGI on more than one occasion. But the numbers don’t lie. This movie is a crowd-pleasing good time that ticks the biggest Superhero Blockbuster box of all — prioritizing fun and escapist entertainment above all. Against many odds, Aquaman is a DCEU installment that swims far more than it sinks.

My trident is cooler than your trident.

Recommendation: This movie has been out for nearly five weeks as of this writing. You’ve either seen it or aren’t going to. Not much more I can really say here. (Oh, there is this: if you’ve wondered whatever happened to James Wan’s partner-in-heinous-crime from the Saw days, Leigh Whannell apparently appears as a cargo pilot in this film — which I find hilarious. The trajectories of these two filmmakers have been quite incomparable.)

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 143 mins.

Quoted: “What are we doing?”

“Hiding inside a whale. I got this from Pinocchio!”

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Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com

The Danish Girl

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Release: Friday, November 27, 2015 (limited)

[Theater]

Written by: Lucinda Coxon

Directed by: Tom Hooper

The Danish Girl, at least at a glance, looks poised to pull a Dallas Buyers Club and receive recognition, and possibly even win top prizes for both leading categories next February. The field is getting pretty stacked though, and if Leo can just get a word in edgeways . . .

Even though he’s in the lead here, Eddie Redmayne recalls Jared Leto, who last year transformed himself from 30 Seconds to Mars vocalist to Oscar-deserving thespian on the back of his scintillating turn as a transgender prostitute. Even with Leto’s prior roles considered, the story of him becoming Rayon was one of the highlights of 2014. He couldn’t do it alone though as surely he fed off of Matthew McConaughey’s own intensity.

Similarly in The Danish Girl Redmayne is half the picture, entirely dependent upon the chemistry he shares with his Swedish co-star Alicia Vikander, who officially gives Marion Cotillard something to worry about. No longer does the race for first place in the Best Leading Lady poll seem like such a given. Vikander is arguably best in show in a film that will be remembered for heartwarming (and breaking) performances first and story second.

Slight in build but dapper in a suit, Redmayne is introduced as an upstanding but quite shy young man, a talented painter named Einar Wegener whose landscape portraits are fairly highly sought after. He lives in 1920s Copenhagen with his wife of several years, Gerda, herself a painter. The story is very much one that takes place behind closed doors, chronicling Einar’s transition from a man into a woman and becoming one of the earliest recipients of gender reassignment surgery, a journey inspired by Gerda’s insistence her husband stand in temporarily as a model to allow her to finish off a painting. He dons high heels and stockings, pretends to wear a dress and appears altogether comfortable doing so.

The Danish Girl isn’t made with impatient viewers in mind, nor purists who believe biopics have an absolute obligation to recount every single fact as they happened. Over the course of two hours the film massages an ache into a deeply seated pain, transforming a seemingly ordinary, loving marriage into a relationship fraught with doubt and tested to its very limits as Einar begins to more deeply embrace a new identity.

While there is strong focus on the moment, the film isn’t suggesting a simple game of dress-up was the moment the artist first realized something about them was different. Einar simply believes now more than ever he was born a woman and would prefer to identify as such. Gerda, meanwhile, has a difficult time accepting the game is no longer a game. Director Tom Hooper wisely introduces issues that had potentially been ongoing for years, such as the couple’s infertility problems, among other things. Einar adopts the name Lili Elbe to reflect another phase in her own personal evolution.

Lili also experiences chronic physical pain on a monthly basis, prompting her to seek medical advice. Of course, these are more austere times and as far as doctors are concerned, there’s something psychologically wrong with Einar for believing he’s been born a woman. Homosexuality isn’t exactly viewed in a positive light, much less the concept of a man (or a woman for that matter) identifying more strongly as the opposite gender. These circumstances were considered, at best, exotic fantasies generated by feeble or perverted minds. Supporting actors playing doctors may be on the fringe, but they contribute significantly to that sense of intolerance and it can be pretty uncomfortable.

Hooper’s weaving of fact with fiction works very well all things considered — there’s little mention of the couple’s marriage being annulled by Danish courts in light of Wegener’s groundbreaking surgery, and the real Lili underwent four procedures instead of the two the film implies she had. The Danish Girl blends two powerful performances with a keenly observed screenplay that places a premium on dignity and courage. This is an extremely human movie, perhaps presenting more layers to a single person than any other film this year.

The intimacy is palpable, and not just in terms of the performances. Danny Cohen’s camerawork deserves recognition, for he assembles a patchwork of beautiful shots of the natural world, a few the source of inspiration for some of Einar’s work, and life in romantic European cities such as Copenhagen and Paris. The Dresden Municipal Women’s Clinic, where the surgeries were performed, looks like a castle cloaked in thick tree cover. Elegant cinematography expertly parallels the inner beauty the deeply conflicted Girl so desperately seeks.

Indeed, and much like Jean-Marc Vallée’s exploration of the societal stigmas surrounding HIV/AIDS, this is a beautiful production in more ways than one, its committed performances so clearly sympathetic toward their subjects. Structurally sound but not particularly inventive, in its pursuit of the depth and complexity of the things that make people what they are The Danish Girl bears significant weight.

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Recommendation: Another showcase for Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander (who is arguably better than her male co-star), The Danish Girl is putty in the hands of critics. Moving in the way that you deeply care about the fates of all involved. Dazzlingly shot. Some scenes are highly predictable and formulaic but there is no denying this is a winner. (All the same though, Eddie I’m sorry but my allegiance will still probably lie with Leo come February.) 

Rated: R

Running Time: 120 mins.

Quoted: “I’ve only liked a handful of people in my life, and you’ve been two of them.”

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3 Days to Kill

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Release: Friday, February 21, 2014

[Theater]

Yes, we are indeed struggling through February, aren’t we? Officially in the shadow of Judgment Day, otherwise known as the 86th Academy Awards Ceremony — an event so big its given a whole new name to the day on which it falls. Oscars Sunday has all but ensured that the six-ish weeks leading up to it will be filled with film releases that don’t even bother trying to be good.

For anyone who doesn’t have a cot set up in back of their local theater, this time period makes no difference, but for those who consider the theater home away from home already know January and February to be the infamously treacherous part of the calendar year. To have so much influence as to cause quality filmmakers to go into hibernating for a couple of months is the kind of influence I’d like to have. That’s power you can’t buy, but that good old Oscar has.

Kevin Costner gives off a similar effect in his latest film 3 Days to Kill, a film that from the outside looks like a terribly lazy afterthought of an action-thriller. Costner lumbers across the screen with a sense of sarcasm and indifference towards the material that just screams he’s getting paid pretty handsomely to be “that guy.” That guy we all wish we were because he effortlessly gets his way with the baddies; that guy we all wish we were because he gets to stand beside Amber Heard in yet another over-the-top provocative role; that guy we all wish we were because he gets the best of both worlds — being the biggest box office draw for the film and being the best thing about it (coincidence, I think not).

But I will not lie to you, I went to see this for Amber Heard. I know, I know, there goes all my credibility. . .

In McG’s latest directorial effort, “that guy” is a dying Secret Service agent named Ethan Renner who is particularly good at his job but not at being a family man. He has spent years away from wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and has barely known his daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfield) but when he learns he has a terminal cancer, he tries his hardest to get back in contact with them in Paris, where they currently live. But due to a development during a mission shown at the opening of the film, we realize his work life will seemingly never leave him alone. A mysterious and unapologetically attractive agent, Vivi (Heard) tracks him down and offers him an experimental drug that could improve his life span, in exchange for one last job. He is tasked with finding and killing ‘The Wolf,’ a really, really bad man who has done a bunch of bad stuff.

Now Ethan finds himself in between a rock and a hard place trying to reacquaint himself with his own family and keeping them out of danger — which is what he apparently has been doing by being separated from them for years. His guilt over the circumstances is met with cold indifference from Vivi, and his wife and daughter aren’t fans of him at first to say the least. Slowly though, Zoey allows Ethan into her life when mom goes out of town on a business trip, leaving Ethan with the parental responsibilities. This is all while he’s coughing and spluttering like a baby refusing Gerber’s food, an ailment his daughter finds ‘annoying’ but isn’t aware is actually a serious problem.

The sum total of 3 Days to Kill is a surprisingly entertaining movie about mixing business with personal lives. Indeed it’s a release in the dreaded month of February, but watching a Kevin Costner having fun with a considerably underdeveloped story is an experience actually worth having. Even Heard doesn’t take herself too seriously this time around, which has been the issue I’ve had in defending her as a decent actress all this time. She is not great in this one either, but she shares a few moments with Costner that do nothing but slap a goofy grin on the viewer’s face.

There are many moments when the pair aren’t sharing the screen that offer up some good chuckles as well. A scene in which Ethan is extracting cooking advice from one of his hostages and giving it to his daughter on the phone right before he proceeds to presumably torture the poor Italian. . .with duct tape. . .stands out above the rest. Ethan gets to know a man named Mitat (Marc Andréoni) who is a loving husband and father of two “good” girls, but who also suffers from dirty hand syndrome thanks to his shady business dealings with Ethan’s targets. Together they form a mismatched pair of men trying to do the right thing but failing more often than succeeding. Their repeated mistakes are a bit baffling, but in a movie like this trying to wring logic from the film is a little like peeing into the wind.

3 Days to Kill does fall into that ever-broadening category of being dumb, loud entertainment but at this stage in the game, that’s as good as it is going to get prior to the Oscars ceremony. An action-thriller that’s unburdened by standards and expectations, and has no chance of being remembered in two months’ time, McG has had far worse to offer. Surely there are going to be contenders for much more quality-depraved releases this time of year.

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She ain’t talkin’ to nun of ya’s . . .

3-0

Recommendation: A film that is much better than it had any right to be, 3 Days to Kill offers fun and engaging action sequences with an emphasis on family values. At times the two themes conflict in very distracting ways but more often than not the film is harmless fun, especially seeing Kevin Costner all but sleepwalk through the role of an estranged father/husband while getting hit on by a sumptuous Vivi. It’s all ridiculous, but isn’t this why you’re curious about this review in the first place?

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 113 mins.

Quoted: “Hello, I am a Guido.”

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Machete Kills

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Release: Friday, October 11, 2013

[Theater]

Okay. I’ll go ahead and file this one under ‘Ridiculous.’

But I’ll be sure to leave a sticky note on it as well, with a reminder saying, ‘Not bad if you’re in just the right mood for guns, girls and glory all in one simple, cartoonish and outrageously campy package.’ It’s not exactly a brief label, but this is what’s true of Robert Rodriguez’ follow-up to 2010’s Machete. This thing is incredibly clunky, crude and crass, but oh-so-creative and deliciously dumb.

Seems that with Machete Kills, along with lowering my standards of moviegoing entertainment (I paid $8.75 to see Miss San Antonio, not Mel Gibon. . .or even a Chuck Sheen who’s seemingly undergoing an identity crisis as he’s credited as Carlos Estévez for the first time in. . . well, years), I’ve also gone ahead and broken a long-standing moviegoing rule of mine — to avoid seeing a sequel before getting to see the original first. Seeing that this is a story with about as much substance as a microwaved bowl of Spaghetti-O’s, I figured I wouldn’t be missing much. And, barring the continuation of the “fake trailer” gimmick that Rodriguez has run away with since his Planet Terror portion of Grindhouse, and a couple of characters that were also in the first, my experience proved that to be true.

The film opens with a scene in which Machete (Danny Trejo) and his partner, Sartana (Jessica Alba) are fighting off some baddies and seem to have been successful, when suddenly a masked man appears around the side of a vehicle and guns down Sartana, and then bails, leaving Machete alone and  now even more morbid-looking than he previously had been.

Soon he’s captured by an overzealous Texas sheriff (William Sadler) and is subsequently hung, but once again his body proves to be near-immortal as his neck is too thick to break in the process. Moments later, a call comes in from President Rathcock (Sheen) requesting the help of the ex-Federale agent. The cop reluctantly cuts the big bastard down and he sets off on his mission to save the world, also now saddled with vengeance and heartbreak. What ensues is a journey filled with chaos, extraordinarily excessive bloodshed, women that would likely incur the envy of James Bond, and another appearance from Mel Gibson (yay!). It is all perhaps a bit too much to handle at once.

Not the least of which is Amber Heard in a, shall we say, visually stunning role that is, unfortunately, all style and no substance. Her (read: appreciated) eye candy roles have pretty much all led to this.

Simultaneously a San Antonio Beauty Pageant Queen and a covert agent trained to assist Machete in his mission, Heard’s role is probably the most gratuitous element in Machete Kills. Describing her entirely would reveal too much about this flick, even though spoilers SHOULDN’T be something one should be concerned about with a movie like this — all the same, I won’t ruin it — but I’ll say this: Miss San Antonio, for all intents and purposes, is a microcosm of Rodriguez’ brand of filming (at least, as of late). She’s sexy, obsessed with violence, and her acting is desperately campy all at once, in every frame of the film she’s in. As much as I enjoy her presence, her performance does leave a lot to be desired still. But, how dare I ask for more.

Miss San Antonio’s not left to bask in the misogynistic light of Rodriguez’ blood-spattered world alone, though.

Along his journey, our scarred hero must get past a barrage of blustery characters, including a hostile group of women who seem to be the female version of Hell’s Angels (only without the bikes), headed up by Sofia Vergara’s maniacal Desdemona (otherwise known as the girl in the trailer with guns for boobs). She’s backed up by Alexa Vega’s Kill Joy and Vanessa Hudgens’ Cereza; other notable villains include Walton Goggins/Cuba Gooding Jr./Lady Gaga/Antonio Banderas as El Camaléon/La Camaléon (that’s a whole other story in itself), and Demian Bichir is wildly entertaining as a bipolar weirdo named Mendez.

Not having seen the first movie may almost be an advantage when talking its follow-up. Clearly, it hasn’t performed even half as well as the original. All depending on one’s loyalty to the director’s flare, there’d be surely some level of disappointment after seeing Kills if you were a fan of the first. The film seems to drag by in places which rendered it a much slower-moving hour and forty-five minutes than it should have been with such a star-studded cast; the flaw in its pacing is something that should be unforgivable given the playfulness of the style and tones on display. When the acting is not something you can rely on either, the parts that drag, go by unbearably so.

Fortunately, the climax of the film is suitably amusing and the deaths are more cartoonish than ever. Mel Gibson is disturbingly comfortable in the role of a demented billionaire, hell-bent on worldwide destruction. In some ways, I was convinced this was not really an acting job for him. He just was himself and cameras rolled. (Theories on this can be discussed later.) What worked the most for Gibson here was his timing. Appearing at the ass-end of an outrageous story, his Voz, a wealthy arms dealer who plans on nuking the world into chaos for some inexplicable reason, is the ultimate threat. A point to the movie, if ever there were any.

Can Machete stop Voz before its too late? Will Machete become seduced by one too many tantalizing ladies? . . . will Charlie Carlos Sheen-Estévez’ identity crisis get resolved? You’ll have to find out by tuning into the latest trailer-disguised-as-movie, Machete Kills, one of the most unabashedly silly farces you should allow yourself to see this side of Movie 43.

Yeah, why not?

Hey, what the hell — why not?

2-5Recommendation: The original likely will be widely regarded as the superior version, as I get the impression this affair lacked some originality in its storytelling (probably the most common syndrome that sequels suffer from), and the Bollywood-esque acting offers no apologies. Still, there’s enough here to have a mindlessly entertaining time with. Guilty pleasures, what’s wrong with having ’em?

Rated: R

Running Time: 106 mins.

Quoted: “Machete don’t tweet.”

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Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

Paranoia

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Release: Thursday, August 15, 2013

[Theater]

I’d like to plead the fifth to any questions raised concerning whether I just went to see this for Amber Heard. I mean, come on guys. It’s also got Liam Hemsworth in it — you know, that strapping gentleman from The Hunger Games, real-life brother of Thor, hello? And this movie also features huge A-listers in Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman. Why anyone would ask me whether she was the reason I saw Paranoia is actually pretty logical, though. There are scant reasons to see this aside from her. To be delicate, this movie leaves only nine other spots on a theoretical list I’m making of the Ten Worst Films I’ve Ever Seen. The script for this supposed crime-drama is that bad, it really is.

As always, I got ahead of myself and checked the status of the upcoming movie on Rotten Tomatoes before going in and what I saw really shocked me. As limited as the marketing was backing up Luketic’s new project, the trailers had me believing we would be getting a cool new action thriller. Oldman in another sinister role, awesome. How the film would qualify for my “list of ten worst films” considering the disappointing little you get from a cast as good as this. It is stunning how terrible the dialogue is for much of the movie, and a lot of the time the plot doesn’t make sense. While there are moments that invite your eyes to widen a little bit as if you’re ready to change facial expressions, the vast majority of Paranoia is utterly, utterly flat and boring.

(I’m actually patting myself on the back for not walking out on this.)

But yet, there was some. . .quality to this film remaining that managed to keep me there, along with, I guess, the other six people who were in my theater. Despite director Robert Luketic’s seeming incompetence to provide anything but cliches to fill the time, the presence of Oldman, Ford and to a lesser degree, Hemsworth, were a bit compelling.

Some semblance of a plot is as follows:

Adam Cassidy (Hemsworth) is a bright, hard-working 27-year old fighting in the corporate world to get ahead and earn a job that will finally pay him his dues. His status and work ethic suggest advancement but his boss, the insufferable Nick Wyatt (Oldman), insists he’s nothing special. He proves it by firing him along with his team of brainiac friends after a presentation Adam was giving failed to impress a distracted Mr. Wyatt. Adam then takes his friends out for drinks as an apology for his pushiness which led to their firings, but he also uses the leftover allowance on his corporate credit card to pay for the night. Win-win, or so he thinks.

Wyatt bargains with him when he discovers $16k has been spent the night of his dismissal, and during one of the only good scenes in this entire yawn-a-thon, Oldman’s menacing temperament is shown. He tells Adam he is going to work for his rival company — Eikon, run by his former partner, Jock Goddard (Ford) — and gain valuable inside information for Wyatt’s personal gain. Even if the plot is unremarkable in that regard, there wasn’t much of a chance to enjoy the development since Luketic insisted the movie be dumbed down as possible.

It was like a spelling bee First Round, where the words are very easy and simple and everyone gets it correctly — that’s how this script passed by editors, got approval. Inexplicably, the likes of Ford, Oldman and Hemsworth, and even Amber Heard as the potential love interest for Adam, a very on-again/off-again Emma Jennings, who didn’t have much to say but what she did have to say was utterly bland — all these people agreed to what they read! It is tough to understand unless you watch this, but that’s a thing that I absolutely insist you do not do.

As Adam receives a “make-over” of sorts from a couple of Wyatt’s corporate malefactors, Dr. Bolton (Embeth Davidtz) and “Meechum” (Julian McMahon) — this is an attempt to integrate Adam into the image that would attract Eikon to hire him which really is mostly just unbelievable — he is erstwhile attempting to look more divided about the situation he is in. Hemsworth does his best in expressing it, but his character is a dumb dog following its commands. In moments he’s meant to be expressing his ehem paranoia . . . he ends up just looking confused or annoyed. Not his fault, though. There’s really nothing to react to most of the time.

The plan is to get a hold of an advanced phone technology being developed by the genius but selfish Goddard, and Wyatt uses Adam to physically steal the next-level device from its heavily-protected chamber on the 38th floor of the building. Yes, all that familiar rigamarole. Insisting Adam’s services have been sufficiently provided and that he will not continue doing his former boss’ dirty work, he tells Wyatt that he’s done, he’s out. Unfortunately, more bad movie ensues.

Half-heartedly acted, poorly edited and with simply nothing at all to distinguish itself from the ranks of other crime-drama thrillers revolving around technological one-upmanship, Paranoia is a kick to the stomach thinking about the wasted potential. Perhaps there were things going on behind the scenes that contributed to the film’s rather hushed promotion and subsequent release, and which may explain possible on-set awkwardness that allowed the film to come out as clumsy as it has. Mere speculation on my part, but I just hope there’s something else besides Luketic simply producing a complete and total misfire here.

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1-5Recommendation: Stay away. A complete let-down, even for me as I sat down thinking how much fun this is going to be to try and defy the odds of it being grossly under appreciated in the initial reviews. Even with fake expectations, I came out still. . . disappointed.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 106 mins.

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