Harrison Ford’s Worst Movie Is Streaming Right Now
For a while in the 2010s, Harrison Ford just seemed to lose interest and this streaming movie is the worst example of it.
It is difficult to pinpoint when Harrison Ford films stopped being events and started becoming just another title in the multiplex. After his 1970s dual breakthrough with Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, he spent decades as one of the biggest box office draws in Hollywood; he took on new franchises like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan films, made enormous hits like The Fugitive, critically acclaimed dramas like Witness and The Mosquito Coast, and genre-defining masterpieces like Blade Runner. But somewhere along the way, he seem to stop being interested in acting and sad as it is to say, began to very clearly phone it in with increasingly generic films. The worst of those oddly dull Harrison Ford movies is 2013’s Paranoia and it is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Paranoia is part of the odd, very specific subgenre of thrillers that imagine tech companies as hotbeds of intrigue and corporate subterfuge. While that is undoubtedly true in real life to a certain extent, it never really seems to translate in a compelling way to cinema. Hollywood cannot seem to figure out how to turn the corporate malfeasance of Silicon Valley, the majority of which probably does not take place in tense face-to-face interactions over highly symbolic chess games, into thrills on screen. Paranoia tries stacking the cast with dramatic ringers like Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman, plus early 2010s hot tickets Liam Hemsworth and Amber Heard, but all the 2013-era PowerPoint presentations and tastefully intimidating glass-paneled offices can’t make this movie have actual tension.
Liam Hemsworth stars in Paranoia as an inexplicably jacked entry-level engineer at a company run by Gary Oldman, who casually fires him and a group of his equally attractive, clean-cut, exclusively caucasian fellow tech employees. After using a company credit card to pay for bottle service at a club (and meeting Amber Heard for a one-night stand that moves into more), he is blackmailed by Oldman into infiltrating rival/former mentor Harrison Ford’s company. As you might expect, things get more complicated, Hemsworth’s ailing father (a very crusty Richard Dreyfuss) gets threatened, secrets get stolen, and the FBI is involved. It is somewhat bizarre that Paranoia both views the tech world as full of amoral swindlers and criminals, and yet they have to blackmail someone into committing corporate espionage. It seems like it would be easier just to pay someone to willingly spy on Harrison Ford, but that is the least of the movie’s problems.
Harsh as it is to say, Paranoia may be the worst Harrison Ford has ever looked on screen. While he is a famously handsome and rugged-looking man, the movie saddles him with a tightly cropped haircut and dad jeans that do him no favors. Most likely, director Robert Luketic (best known for the light comedies Monster-in-Law and Legally Blonde) was going for the kind of performative casualness that the Mark Zuckerbergs and Jack Dorseys of the world put on, but it has the effect of making Harrison Ford look like he simply couldn’t be bothered to go to the wardrobe department.
It also does not help that Harrison Ford does not show up in Paranoia until 37 minutes in. In theory, holding back a legendary star like Ford for that amount of time could build his character up into an equally legendary figure in the tech world. Instead, the movie spends the bulk of its time on Liam Hemsworth and his interactions with Amber Heard (who herself is playing the stock role of the fierce, borderline hostile businesswoman) and with his tech friends who cannot figure out the reason Hemsworth is so swiftly rising in the corporate world is that he is the main character of the movie.
By the end of the movie, Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman (who drops out of the movie for long stretches) are revealed to both be villains, the FBI arrests a bunch of people, and Liam Hemsworth proves he is a good person by forming a startup tech company. Paranoia was based on a novel by Joseph Finder, who specializes in corporate thrillers, and written by Barry Levy and Jason Hall, both of whom have solid screenplay credits under their belt. Despite that, Paranoia sits right alongside movies like Antitrust, Disclosure, and The Circle as the failure of Hollywood to figure out how to make WifFi networks and thumbprint technology remotely compelling. Accordingly, it holds a spectacularly dismal 7% on Rotten Tomatoes and barely made half its $35 million budget. Harrison Ford deserves better. Hopefully, Indiana Jones 5 will put a spark back in his eye.