Paradise (2023) Review – a solid and engaging dystopian thriller

By Lori Meek
Published: July 27, 2023 (Last updated: July 30, 2023)
2023 Netflix film Paradise Review


At its core, this is a story of a desperate couple trying to get back what was stolen from them.

Here is our review of the 2023 Netflix film Paradise, which does not contain significant spoilers.

The dystopian sci-fi Paradise is a Netflix original production from Germany that was directed and co-written by Boris Kunz. Featuring a story about a world where time is currency, the movie stars Marlene Tanczik, Kostja Ullmann, Iris Berben, and Lisa-Marie Koroll. 

Paradise (2023) Review and Plot Summary

Paradise is set in a not-too-distant future when a company called AEON has figured out a way to reverse the aging process. However, there’s quite a big catch; Someone needs to sacrifice years of their life and donate it to the receiver. And donors and receivers need to have matching DNA. 

Our protagonist, Max Toma is a highly successful sales broker whose job is to sweet-talk poor young people into accepting cold hard cash for years of their lives. We first meet Max convincing an 18-year-old immigrant to “donate” 15 of his years for a fixed sum of €700,000. 

That’s just about enough cash to get his parents out of poverty and hire an immigration lawyer to help secure his father’s visa. 

While the controversial system is rife with corruption and potential for abuse, as far as Max is concerned, life’s good. Not only did Max get an employee of the year recognition and a pat on the back from the CEO of AEON, Sophie Theissen, but he and his wife, Elena, just bought a luxury apartment and are trying for a baby. 

It all comes crashing down when the couple’s apartment burns down. Their insurance won’t pay a penny and the bank will forcefully collect on the collateral; 40 years of Elena’s life. 

If the plot for Paradise sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because it’s similar to 2011’s In Time starring Justin Timberlake. While In Time was a mediocre flashy action where everyone stopped aging at 25, this one executes the concept better. 

There are several twists and turns through the runtime, but at its core, this is a story of a desperate couple trying to get back what was stolen from them. Some scenes of human cruelty are hard to watch, but that’s probably the point. 

Aside from the in-your-face inequality message, this movie offers a compelling character study while asking pertinent questions about love and the worth of youth. 

When we met Max, he described himself as a “cog” in the machine. The system worked well for him until it didn’t. Then he turns away from AEON and has to face the real question; how far are you willing to go to save the person you love?

As a downside, the film has too many side plots and doesn’t fully develop them. The main storyline is solid, but the will-they-won’t-they with Sophie’s security team members feels convoluted. As do most of the scenes with the Adam resistance group. 

Kunz tried adding too many layers to an already complicated plot and not all of it works. 

Is the 2023 movie Paradise good or bad?

While far from perfect, Paradise is an engaging thriller that kept me glued to the screen for nearly two hours. 

Is the 2023 movie Paradise worth watching?

As far as Netflix originals go, Paradise is quite a gem. It’s got a great cast, a compelling story, and neat-looking CGI effects. 

What did you think of the 2023 Netflix film Paradise? Comment below.

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