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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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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog Heavenly Father, I am sure there are frequently tiny miracles where you protect us and are present to us although you always remain anonymous. Help me appreciate how carefully you watch over me and my loved ones all day long, and be sensitive enough to stay close to you. I ask this in Jesus's name. Amen.

 
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