Awful Paranoia Could Cost Ford an Oscar for 42
- Monday, August 19, 2013
DVD Release Date: November 19, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: August 16, 2013
Rating: PG-13 for some sexuality, violence and language
Run Time: 100 min.
Director: Robert Luketic
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Amber Heard, Embeth Davidtz, Richard Dreyfuss
As summer fades and the Fall Movie Season looms, many movie lovers start thinking about the Oscars. Studios save their big-hitter contenders for the last quarter of the year, in hopes that voters with short memories will nominate the most recently seen films. Often the movies with the strongest Best Picture hopes are those with the best performances of the year, although sometimes an actor in an Oscar hopeful has to compete against himself or herself for awards consideration.
When an actor starring in an Oscar-caliber movie also is featured in a decidedly weaker second film from the same year, the lesser film is used as ammunition against the Oscar campaign—an attempt to embarrass voters into distancing themselves from a performer who had the bad form to appear in an artistic failure.
This conflict is knows as "the Norbit effect," coined after Eddie Murphy failed to win the 2006 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in Dreamgirls. That same year saw the release of Murphy's flop Norbit, and industry insiders speculated that Norbit hurt Murphy's chances to claim an Oscar (Murphy lost the Best Supporting Actor category to Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine). The more hopeful example is Sandra Bullock, who won the Best Actress Oscar for The Blind Side in 2009 despite the September release of her poorly-received All About Steve.
Paranoia, a new techno-thriller starring Harrison Ford, could be Ford's Norbit this year. The actor gave one of his most memorable performances in years as Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey in 42—the kind of late-career role that reminds you what a likeable actor Ford can be. His Rickey could be a likely player in the Supporting Actor race this year. That is, unless the paltry, run-of-the-mill Paranoia torpedoes Ford's chances.
Ford acquits himself well in Paranoia, as does co-star Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy). It's the routine, predictable nature of the story that dooms the film, which is never tense when it needs to be; viewers have very limited investment in the fate of the main characters. Worst of all is the complete lack of suspense in the film. Paranoia is a "thriller" that fizzles early.
The plot revolves around young Adam's (Liam Hemsworth, The Hunger Games) determination to rise through the ranks of his tech company. Along with a team of co-workers, he presents a product proposal to his boss, Nicolas Wyatt (Oldman), only to be shot down and shown the door. After Adam celebrates his termination by running up a huge tab at the company's expense, Wyatt calls him back in and offers him a proposition: he won't press charges against Adam for his lavish expenditure if Adam agrees to infiltrate Eikon, the corporation run by Wyatt's rival, Jock Goddard (Ford). Wyatt wants Adam to bring him details of Eikon's secretive new product.
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