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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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Katharine Drexel: If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that. 
<p>She was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn. </p><p>She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s <i>A Century of Dishonor</i>. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities. </p><p>Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions. </p><p>She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!” </p><p>After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states. </p><p>Two saints met when Katharine was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her Order’s Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans. </p><p>At 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.</p> American Catholic Blog Our task during these forty days is to examine our lives in light of God’s Word and see where we’ve allowed darkness to creep in, where we’ve taken the bait of the diabolical fisher of men. It’s time to use the sword of the Spirit to cut through his web of deception, to free ourselves from the net that holds us as prey.


 
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