“Those who make lifetime a commodity make people a commodity.”Lilith
The first half of this German sci-fi thriller is an engaging examination of a future in which medical technology enables people to transfer years of their life, allowing the wealthy to rejuvenate themselves at the expense of the impoverished. Andew Niccol’s In Time (starring Justin Timberlake) was a flashier version of the same concept a decade ago, but Paradise makes its own interesting observations about capitalist society, meritocracy and class divisions, as well as the use of philanthropy to deflect criticism. There is an interesting lens on ageism as we notice our own reaction to elderly-looking individuals in groups of youths. Like In Time, the filmmakers do not trust the audience to find this sufficiently engaging and the second half of the film devolves into a formulaic and predictable action thriller after a woman has 40 years taken against her will. Throw in some poorly lit nighttime action involving a terrorist cell using Biblical imagery and it becomes more familiar Netflix fare — overcomplicated with uninspired execution. The score is a mixed bag, sometimes sounding like a budget Hans Zimmer homage, but elevating other scenes with a gentler blend of electronica and disquieting choral vocals. Paradise eventually returns to its more interesting moral questions by restoring agency to its main characters, though the ending feels rushed and incomplete. It is cogent enough to be thought-provoking in its commentary on society and mortality but Paradise squanders too much of its running time by underestimating its audience.