Paranoia debuted on Blu-ray and DVD this week, as well as a variety of other formats. While not the sharpest thriller tool in the cinematic toolshed, the rivalry between characters Goddard and Wyatt – played by veterans Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman – still make this movie worth a view now that it’s moved beyond theaters to home viewing. The film seeks to establish itself in the same, long line of “power corrupts” and protagonist temptation thrillers like Wall Street, The Firm, The Devil’s Advocate and others with the added element of rival “kings” under which Liam Hemsworth’s character finds himself a pawn, torn between titans. What’s curious is that, ultimately, I don’t believe the film’s greatest weakness is script, pacing, or acting… it’s the fact that it assumes a de facto morality stance that I don’t think we’re certain of anymore, culturally.
“Are you a horse, or a dog?” – Nicolas Wyatt
This question is put to Hemsworth’s character Adam Cassidy, assuming that there are two basic motivating factors in life: fear (survival instinct) or hunger (desire, craving). Also put forward is the idea that the only thing that drives innovation, advancement and change is competition. In a world where this movie, parodying business relationships like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, comes out alongside a movie elevating Steve Jobs’ life, we have a paradox: do we desire the ruthless entrepreneur’s reckoning – comeuppance for these type of people – or should we start celebrating and emulating these people? If we want to judge the Goddards and Wyatt’s of the world, what moral foundation do we stand on?
While the film might have invoked yawns from the critics, I think the greatest yawn is the yawning hole that can only be filled by the moral argument for God’s existence. Whether it’s Hemsworth’s character in the film dealing with amoral titans, or his real life ex-girlfriend Miley Cyrus and everybody’s moral opinions about her twerking, we’re in a place of vague morality and that many narratives like this simply assume without examining the roots.
In a film that explores how we “change the game”, Paranoia leaves a big question mark I believe is answered by a very different “game-changer”. So whether you watch the film or just consider the ideas and mild spoilers of the themes in our audio exploration, you can listen to or download the podcast below.