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DIRECTOR: Robert Luketic
CAST: Amber Heard, Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman
CLASSIFICATION: 10 PG LV
RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes
Thrillers about corporate intrigue run the risk of seeming rarefied and convoluted rather than suspenseful.
The story of a young techie recruited to spy on his boss’ arch rival never really generates the life-and-death tension that would keep audiences involved.
Adam Cassidy (Hemsworth, pictured) and a group of young pals are disappointed when their presentation of a new gizmo fails to impress their ruthless boss Nic Wyatt (Oldman).
After they are fired, Adam decides to have one last fling at Wyatt’s expense and takes his friends on a binge using his corporate credit card. Wyatt demands restitution, but suggests Adam can make amends by going to work for a fellow tycoon and stealing his secrets.
Adam reluctantly agrees and joins the inner circle of Eikon Corp, run by Wyatt’s former partner Jock Goddard (Ford).
Adam is soon caught in the middle of a life-long feud between the two tycoons and begins to feel his life is in danger. Things get more complicated when the FBI tries to enlist him to help with its investigation of the corporate giants’ shady business practices.
The script, based on a novel by Joseph Finder, starts off with a lot of credibility problems.
Adam lands a top position at Goddard’s firm with remarkable ease, considering his track record has been less than stellar.
His rise is so swift that it isn’t hard to guess that Goddard has ulterior motives of his own. Of course, Adam is being used by both billionaires, so there isn’t much narrative surprise.
It’s clear that everyone is duplicitous, but it isn’t always clear how their plotting proceeds with so few glitches.
It also doesn’t help that there really isn’t anyone to root for in this game of cat-and-mouse. The easily manipulated, fiercely ambitious Adam isn’t the most likeable protagonist, and a few shots of him placing a blanket over his ailing father (Richard Dreyfuss) are all-too-blatant attempts to win sympathy for a fairly soulless social climber.
Stoddard and Wyatt are cold-hearted sharks, and Adam’s love interest, a snooty Ivy League-educated executive (Heard), isn’t endearing either.
Hemsworth’s performance isn’t strong enough to put us on his side. He certainly cuts a dashing figure, and his frequent shirtless scenes will please his fans, but he never fully engages our sympathy.
Embeth Davidtz as Oldman’s steely associate brings considerable flair to her role.
The sleek environs of corporate offices and billionaire mansions are well caught by cinematographer David Tattersall.
But the intrigue in high places never really has us on the edge of our seats, and the formulaic happy ending – fortified by some desperate voice-over narration provided to fill the holes in the plot – undermines the entire exercise.
The filmmakers might have hoped to make a timely commentary on the amorality in our executive suites, but they end up merely restating the obvious.
Maybe the whole thing would have played better as a corporate comedy, the kind Doris Day and Rock Hudson made 50 years ago. – Hollywood Reporter
If you liked Margin Call or The East you will like this.