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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Paranoia

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Liam Hemsworth, Embeth Davidtz, Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford star in a scene from the movie "Paranoia."
Though the twisting path of its plot feels well-rutted, the corporate conspiracy thriller "Paranoia" (Relativity) does chart its protagonist's journey to a morally respectable version of personal redemption.

Along the way, viewers are invited to join him in rejecting the ethical nihilism that frequently surrounds him in the cutthroat milieu that provides the film's setting—and to embrace old-fashioned standards of right and wrong instead.

The flagrant character defects our future hero initially displays show just how far he has to go: Consumed by materialistic visions of the good life, and by envy-driven ambition, computer whiz-kid Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) does not react well to being professionally thwarted.

So when a pitch to his callous boss, Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman), goes horribly wrong and gets his entire tech team fired, Adam seeks revenge by using his company credit card to fund a high-rolling nightlong bender for himself and his unfortunate colleagues.

Waking up beside the fetching stranger who caught his eye on the dance floor during the binge—and whose name he still doesn't know—Adam finds he has more to cope with than just social awkwardness and a hangover. Hauled into Wyatt's office, he's given an unpleasant choice: Face prosecution for his illicit expenditure or cooperate in Wyatt's plan to bring down rival CEO Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford).

Once Wyatt's mentor and partner, Goddard has become his prime competitor and bitterest enemy. Wyatt wants Adam to infiltrate Goddard's outfit so he can gain access to the game-changing new product they're about to launch.

Once undercover, Adam falls for Emma Jennings (Amber Heard), one of Goddard's top executives. He also finds himself drawn to Goddard, whose polished manner is a welcome contrast to Wyatt's brutish demeanor.

Back home, Adam resolutely ignores the sensible guidance offered him by his working-class father Frank (Richard Dreyfuss). After all, he reasons, what would someone who stayed in the same job his whole life and who showed no longing for wealth or power know about anything?

As Adam works his way back to the positive values with which he was raised, he finds an acceptable (though farfetched) resolution to his professional dilemma and deepens his bonds with Emma.

Though the two gradually move toward genuine commitment, as earlier scenes have shown us, both Adam and Emma operate from the flawed premise that romantic relationships begin with a physical connection and either flourish or wither away after that.

Overall, "Paranoia" conveys a sound enough message, but the story used to deliver it seems stale.

The film contains some action violence, semi-graphic premarital sexual activity, an off-screen casual encounter, numerous sexual jokes and references, a couple of uses of profanity, at least one rough term and occasional crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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