Netflix is out with a new German-language sci-fi film title Paradise. The film is well under 2 hours but isn’t quite as engaging as its concept would warrant. Read our full review to know if it’s worth your while. “Paradise” is a sci-fi mystery that follows a young man and his wife in a dystopian not-so-distant future where lifespan, or your time, has basically become a commodity to sell for huge profits. The company Aeon, which discovered this process, is run by a woman named Sophie Theissen and has now become a global corporate giant. Max’s story begins as a happy employee at Aeon, but very quickly, things take a drastic turn for him. Let’s dive straight into the film to understand what happens to Max and Elena.
What happens in the film?
Paradise begins with an advertisement for Aeon’s “time donation” program, which provides people with the hope that by selling their time, they’ll be able to take one step closer to their dreams. At the end of the advertisement, there’s a slogan that advocates the concept of time donation as something you do by your own choice, but in reality, the poor are convinced by employees known as donation managers to donate so that rich people can get younger and live longer. Max is one of these employees, and he’s convincing a young boy who has just turned 18 to donate 15 years of his life so his family can live legally in Germany. He convinces the boy using cold facts about his family and the limitations they have. If he donated 15 years, all their problems would be solved in an instant.
In the background, a song about bright and sunny days plays as Max makes his way to the Aeon building, where many people stand in protest of the company. He even wears what looks like a raincoat to be protected from being paint-splattered. At Aeon, though, he’s applauded for his work and named donation manager of the year. Elsewhere in the building, some scientists are just recovering from their procedures for receiving donations so that they can bring more advancements to the world. In the meantime, Sophie announces that the company will include all Nobel Prize winners in their list of recipients. The procedure uses DNA to match people and “share” time, so only if the DNA matches can time be donated from one person to another.
While the scientists are healing in this facility, a man dressed as an employee pulls out a gun and shoots all the patients in the room, graffitiing the wall with an A symbol, and then runs off. He’s from a group called the Adam Group, which is meant to be an anti-Aeon group. They use terrorist activities to stop the company and kill people in the name of saving society. A new member named Nowak is added to the Aeon task force so that they are able to stop the Adam group more proficiently. On the other hand, Max heads home, seemingly oblivious to the fact that 15 people lost their lives at his workplace. He celebrates his award with his wife at home. He visits Elena’s family, and they don’t like the work he does. His father-in-law specifically thinks it’s extremely unethical.
When they get back to the city, they notice a fire in the building, and it happens to be their own apartment that’s been completely burned down. Supposedly it was caused by candles, but according to Elena, she blew them all out before leaving (the timeline seems a bit odd here because we thought they went to the in-laws the next day, but sure). Because it wasn’t to do with any malfunctioning of the building, though, Elena had to pay with her collateral of almost 40 years to pay for this house. After being forced to give up those years, Elena distances herself from Max as she gives up on the dream life they had wanted for each other. She was pregnant but had a miscarriage, but this only makes Max more determined to get her her years back. He thought Sophie would help him because she showed enthusiasm when he told her about it, but in reality, she was the one who needed the donation. Max makes a plan then and kidnaps someone he thinks is Sophie after her procedure.
He brings Elena with him on a road trip to Lithuania, where a Doctor is willing to do the procedure illegally for him. Soon the girl they’ve kidnapped tells them that she’s Marie Theissen, Sophie’s daughter, and this immediately messes with Elena’s head. She doesn’t want to hurt an innocent girl just because her mother took Elena’s life away from her. Max is adamant that Sophie is just playing tricks on them. By the time they reach Lithuania on the ship, Aeon has already figured out their location, but they manage to escape by holding one of the kids of a family hostage so they can escape in their vehicle. They reach a random abandoned hotel and stay up there for the night.
Marie manages to escape by striking Max on the head, but then she almost drowns and is saved by Elena. Back in the hotel, Marie takes a shower, and Elena notices that she doesn’t have the scars from the procedure. Now she’s sure she’s Marie, but Max says the scars heal after some time. Nowak and Sophie’s team head out to Max’s location, but while they’re miles away, the Adam Group finds them first.
What changes between Max and Elena?
The Adam Group’s aim is to kill Sophie, and it doesn’t matter what it takes. Marie is the perfect way to make sure they get Sophie’s attention, so they decide to use Max to lure Sophie into a trap for them. In the meantime, they put a gun in Elena’s hand and told her to shoot at Marie. Taking someone’s years is essentially like taking their life, so they want Elena to know what she’s really doing. Elena puts the gun down, though, proving that she’s a good person (this changes in like 5 minutes, but okay). Max heads out and tells the team that he wants to talk to Sophie alone inside the hotel, but her friend and oldest bodyguard realizes that it’s a trap. Before she can do anything, though, Nowak shoots Sophie, and everybody starts firing. He was a part of the Adam Group from the beginning. Even the head of the Adam Group ends up dead. But it’s all futile because Sophie was wearing a bulletproof vest.
Seeing people die in front of her, Elena, who is a doctor, decides that she hasn’t done enough in life and has dreamed of so much for herself and Max. On the other hand, Max now doesn’t want to hurt Marie because he thinks Sophie is dead, so there’s no way Marie would be able to get the years back if Elena took them from her. With their contradicting thoughts, Elena leaves Max on the road and takes the car with Marie to the location of the doctor. She gets the procedure done and runs away, leaving Marie on the streets. On the other hand, Max finds his way to a refugee camp and is shocked by its tremendous size. The illegal doctor is using random kids from the refugee camps for donations. Fortunately, a truck driver finds Marie, and she’s taken back home to her mother, who looks younger than ever.
Marie and Sophie are a match because they share the same DNA, but Sophie’s ambitions keep her from giving up her 40 years to Marie. She’s become corrupted by her greed and won’t even save her own daughter. Ironically, she started this research to save her first daughter, who had a disease. Sophie’s bodyguard and old friend finally quits, seeing that she has hurt so many people and made so many ghosts just for her to get back her youth and become the most powerful woman in Europe. It’s made clear that she was the one who set the fire in the apartment because Elena was the right match for Sophie, but because Max had fallen in love with her when he went to recruit her, she didn’t sign up for donations.
At the end of Paradise movie, we see Max look over a sandy beach, and a woman stands there in a white dress. The woman is Elena, and she’s pregnant with another man’s baby. Max sees them together and walks away to a car filled with people with guns. Ultimately, he’s joined the Adam Group because he now sees that companies like Aeon and illegal doctors will continue to exploit the poor for their “time.” He’s ready to fight the injustice. We can assume that Max was there to kill Elena, but he spares her because he wants to be a good person. Ultimately, Elena made the life he wanted with her with someone else, but he was at fault for making her believe that Aeon would not harm them.