The word espionage is most commonly used in relation to spy stories. It conjures up images of James Bond, exotic locations and wild action scenes. But in many movies espionage has little to do with shaken not stirred martinis and Bond girls, and more to do with corporate secrets and intrigue.
This weekend, Paranoia explores the world of big business espionage as Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) finds himself doing dangerous double duty in the billion dollar world of high tech.
As an entry level employee, his boss Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) promises him a corner office, among other things, if he will spy on rival tech giant Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford).
That movie is set in the world of bits and bytes but corporate espionage comes in as many styles as that ergonomically designed chair in the CEO’s office.
As the title would suggest, the movie Duplicity is ripe with lies and underhanded dealings. Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are former government spies now working in the private sector. Despite being intimately involved, they work for rival shampoo companies. It’s a romantic comedy about undercover activities. Imagine if Rock Hudson and Doris Day had starred in Mission Impossible and you get the idea.
Genetics is the currency in New Rose Hotel, a 1999 Christopher Walken and Willem Dafoe film based on a short story by William Gibson. They play corporate moles hired to influence a Japanese bio-engineering expert to defect from one corporation to another. To seduce Dr. Hiroshi (Yoshitaka Amano) they hire a prostitute (Asia Argento) to win his affections. The plan doesn’t work, and neither does the movie, really, but it’s worth a look for the flamboyant performances from Walken and Dafoe.
Finally, back in the world of high tech espionage, the Ben Affleck thriller Paycheck is a good little movie released at the wrong time. Wedged between Gigli and Jersey Girl, it came out at the height of Bennifer and the nadir of audience interest in Affleck as an actor.
Based on a Philip K Dick short story, Affleck plays Jennings, a genius programmer hired by corporations to reverse engineer new products, recreating them anew. His work is so secretive that after he’s done, his memory is wiped clean. The chicanery really begins when his employer (Aaron Eckhart) pulls a double cross, leaving Jennings with no money, no memory and a world of trouble.
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