Paranoia, starring Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford, and Gary Oldman, has a lot going for it. This particular trailer, however, falls for the old trailer trap that I had hoped the Star Trek Into Darkness and Man of Steel trailers had banished forever: revealing the vast majority of the film. Let’s take a look at what appears to be a solid film, with the exception of that boring side romance. Spoiler alert for the film, but it’s nothing the trailer didn’t just show us, so… that makes it okay?
First, we introduce the character. Aw, look, he’s a good looking guy with that goofy ladies-man Owen Wilson charm, except combined with intelligence. A typical moderately perfect action hero, which would make him pretty boring, except that he appears to have a sense of humor. Not bad. His back story we get in a voice-over, which is acceptable in a trailer, but better not be in the film. His dad’s been a lowly security guard for “over 32 years” (I can only assume this means 33 years), but he hasn’t so much as gotten a severance package. Conflict! Hemsworth has then “refined” his “skills” — making tiny bug robots from kits, and lighting up 15 phones at once. That crazy Hollywood science! A little unnecessary, but nothing wrong so far.
Then Hemsworth is called in to a CEO’s office or something, where Gary Oldman gives him a job stealing trade secrets from Indiana Jones. This is the inciting incident, of course, and that’s something every trailer should have: it sets up the rest of the story, and explains the stakes to us: our hero could be in serious legal trouble if he’s caught. If you like espionage stories, this one’s got Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford, both well-suited to the genre. This is all we need to know in order to enjoy the film.
Next, we find out Liam’s being “reinvented.” This is fun. He gets a cool car, cool suit… the plot isn’t spoiled, but we get a sense of the bohemian fun that we’ll get from the film. Next, we show Liam make his way into the company — extra plot that isn’t even interesting, except to show us the love interest with Harrison Ford’s daughter. It’s pretty typical: she falls for his personality, but since he’s lying we know that they’ll have a falling out (and even that is shown at 2:09), only to of course reconcile at the end (the only thing not shown, but… come on).
Harrison Ford’s character Goddard gives Liam a car with my favorite scene in the trailer, solely because I love seeing Harrison give his line “Yeah, you could” with such Harrison Ford-iness. Watch it. You’ll see what I mean.
Then the trailer shows us the MacGuffin: an irreplaceable “revolution” in the form of a cube in a vault. Sure, whatever. BUT THEN WE SEE LIAM’S ALREADY STOLEN IT! Nooo. TMI, trailer people! And then Gary Oldman double-crosses Liam! And threatens his dad! And the FBI knows about Liam’s spying! And Harrison Ford knows about Liam’s spying! And they’re all trying to kill him!
This looks like the entirety of the second act. That’s already too much. But there’s more. Now they show Liam fighting back, saying “I’m going to use what they taught me to destroy what they built,” and then we hear Liam BRAGGING TO OLDMAN ABOUT GIVING HIM FALSE INFORMATION. And WINKING. We know he’s going to fight back. We just don’t want to see it in the trailer. Don’t end the entire trailer with a scene of the hero winking in triumph. I hope he dies in the end.
Anyway, the film looks like a solid spy thriller, and maybe there are a few cool twists that aren’t covered in the trailer. But I know it can’t be too cool, because the type of film that broadcasts this much story can’t be clever enough to hide anything good.
Trailer Grade: C-
Film Grade: B