Paradise. Kostja Ullmann as Max and Corinna Kirchhoff as Elena in Paradise. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

Netflix Movie Paradise Discussion – Is It Worth Watching

Netflix Movie Paradise Discussion – Is It Worth Watching
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Netflix Movie Paradise Discussion – Is It Worth Watching? I love think piece films that pick a controversial sci-fi, technological ideal, and play it out to its most illogical, but natural conclusion. But is Netflix’s German movie Paradise worth watching? Is there enough on this Sci-Fi bone to make the 2-hour run time worth it? Let’s talk it through, shall we?

Paradise Movie Rule of the Game

First we need to understand the rules of how the Paradise tech works. In this future, of cordoned off cities and stratified haves and have-nots, we learn that Aeon has developed a technology that allows matched individuals to sell years of their lives to other individuals. I give you 15 years of my life, and you give me $700,000. And basically, I undergo a procedure, and over the course of 24 hours, I become 15 years older, and you, in turn, become 15 years younger. Make sense?

The glitch? There are only certain individuals that match for these sorts of transactions. And, as a result, only the richest rich of the rich – the upper 10,000 of the planet – are receiving these life extending procedures. Worse, on the receiving end of the life lengthening side of things… there are a lot of negatives that most people don’t think about when agreeing to do something like this. Pregnancies are lost. Physical implications to working like you used to yesterday, and causing ailments to your now older body, etc. It’s really an ugly deal with the devil all the way around.

The Story of Paradise

Max (played by Kostja Ullmann) opens the movie with a hard sell on his exchanging the aforementioned 15 years of his life for €700,000. Max convinces the kid by telling him how long he would have to work to achieve 700,000 Euros. And immediately after closing the sale, Max is surprised to receive the award for Aeon’s salesman of the year award at Aeon’s headquarters on the completely other side of the tracks of the city.

CEO Sophie Thiessen (Iris Berben) makes it clear just how important this new tech is for the world and what a transformative innovation it is that they have developed. But the solution has a long way to go because of the barriers caused by the required match, and just how rare these matches are. Afterwards, Max heads to his amazing home that his wife secretly financed by leveraging 40 years of her life to make happen.

We also begin learning that the global community is actually quite unhappy with Aeon’s new tech. So much so that they are murdering individuals that have stolen years of other people’s lives. They also make it clear that they have marked all 10,000 de-aged individuals for death. And that they are coming for them all. It’s a pretty great world building structure of the have-nots rising up against the haves.

Then a catastrophe strikes. When Max and his wife Elena head out to visit her parents, someone forgot to blow out a candle. Which, is a problem. Why? Because their glorious new home has burnt down, and because it was through negligence, the insurance will not pay out on the claim. Worse, the collateral that Elena put up against the house of 40 years, because they now owe €2.5 million? That is now all due. Worse than worse? The police have come to physically extract it from her. She’s suddenly in lots and lots of trouble. How is this suddenly going so poorly for this up and coming couple? Well, when Max realizes that his wife’s stolen years are most likely going to the CEO of Aeon… he begins to wonder if maybe they didn’t leave a candle lit in the apartment after all.

Determined to do whatever he has to do for his wife – and realizing full well what just happened – Max abducts the now younger CEO. Only glitch? It might not be the CEO, and it could very well, possibly the CEOs daughter. De-agification makes things really, really complicated when you are abducting in order to reverse the process. Soon you could have a CEO-daughter who is now older than the CEO-mother? huh? But to handle the reversal, it requires a black-market firm out of Lithuania.

However, once they arrive – it turns out to be a trap. Or something. I admit, I sort of lost track, and I might have just had a bottle of wine celebrating Swiss Independence day. So, yeah, I’m currently a little confused about most everything right now. Let alone this particular movie. Regardless, the revolutionaries meet Max and Elena, and also the security team for Aeon, all arrive at the same time. Max manages to convince Sophie, the CEO, to come in and check that her daughter is alright, but before that happens all hell breaks loose. Machine gun fire, people dying, left and right. And though Sophie, the CEO of Aeon, is shot by a counter-revolutionary mole (appropriately code-named Judas), she was wearing a breastplate and survived.

Meanwhile, Max and Elena sneak out the back door. But Max, having gained a conscience, decides he cannot steal 40 years from Sophie’s daughter as she is an innocent bystander, is told to get out. Elena moves on without him… and with that, their moral high-grounds become flipped with where they were at the beginning of the film.

Netflix Movie Paradise Discussion - Is It Worth Watching?

The Ending of Paradise Explained

To understand the ending – let’s go back to the beginning. As the movie opens, Max is working for an obviously corrupt technical organization that is preying on the lives (literally) of the poor and underprivileged. He justifies his job convincing the poor to give up years of their lives – of which he’s the best in the world at – to his in-laws… but it’s clear that everyone but him knows that Aeon is an evil corporation. I mean, yes? You got that? Right?

Elena is sort of on the fence. She likes the money that Max’s job brings in. She even defends him with her parents. But ultimately, she wants even more money than Max can even bring in. How do we know that? Well, she agrees to leverage large swaths of her life on the down payment for their house. Then, as the movie closes out, we watch things flip.

What happens? Max, feels bad that his job is part of a world where human’s lives are stolen. He sees that now. And knowing that that is what he has been a part of – and seeing it first hand, really changes his perspective on it all. So much so, he decides he can’t be a part of Elena’s determination to steal the years from Sophie’s daughter. Even if Sophie deserves the potential chaos and revenge Elena wants to inflict.

And that sends Sophie deeper – as she steals the years – and heads off to the beach with some other unnamed hunk. So she walks off the moral gangplank and doesn’t even look back. Max on the other hand? Having seen the pain he has been inflicting on people first hand, he joins the anti-Aeon group, and heads towards the headquarters with guns and jeeps… obviously determined to attack the corporation head first.

Thoughts on Paradise

Gotta say that I’ve heard a few people make the comment that the constant agifications and de-agifications that happen throughout the film makes it a little disjointed. Tricky to care about a character that keeps having their actor swapped out on them over and over again! hahah. (But better that than a bunch of makeup, I must say.) And I thought that the world building in Paradise was really very good. Better than many A-list Hollywood movies even. And the sci-fi concept was poignant, and almost at a Black Mirror level in its cleverness. Will it be considered one of the truly great sci-fi films of all time? No, it won’t even last the month. But it raised some really fascinating moral complications, and interesting ideas around what our time on earth is worth.

What is our time on planet earth worth? Not a rhetorical question. Like, really? What is the cash on hand value of your time worth? To you? It’s invaluable… incalculable. To an insurance underwriter? Hold on… let me refer to this handy table… remind me your age. And yearly income? Here… my calculator says… You get the idea. Today, in the real word, we aren’t that far from this reality expressed in Paradise.

So, what is the film saying then? Basically that we should all take up arms against insurance adjusters obvz. Were you not paying attention? No, really? I mean, seriously, it’s talking about the intrinsic value of all human life regardless of their status, position, or place in life. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living. Doesn’t matter your gender, job, or even potential future. You are valuable… and your life, regardless of what an adjuster table says, matters. End of story.

Edited by: CY