Netflix’s ‘Paradise Beach’ has a promising story and a powerful endgame but suffers from weak execution
A story of retribution, redemption, and reprisal, the French-Thai film could have been a more interesting watch if it weren't for the distracting subplots
Whenever a movie is shot is a tropical beach locale, it is almost impossible to not pay attention to the delightful scenery and pleasing aesthetics.
Netflix’s freshly released ‘Paradise Beach’ which was shot in Thailand offers a massive dose of sublime beauty. However, that cannot possibly be the only reason why ‘Paradise Beach’ is something you must watch.
The movie at its core is about an ex-robber, Mehdi (Sami Bouajila), who tracks down five members of his old gang, 15 years after their robbery went horribly wrong. Mehdi now wants to right the wrongs and claim his piece of the pie.
There are many things that make the film stand out. The background and the setting is definitely the first thing that comes hits the viewer. The pristine beaches, the bright and cheery landscape of Thailand, and the neon-lit nightlife of Patong are quite a visual treat.
The aspects of brotherhood and friendship are well explored. Mehdi's brother Hicham (Tewfik Jallab) gives him shelter after he's released from jail and continues to "protect his brother" through thick and thin. In the mayhem that follows, their brotherhood becomes obvious, and we almost start to believe that the film is all about their brotherhood.
Our expectations are soon broken and the movie presents you with a fresh twist. This works well to generate a good amount of curiosity and keep us hooked until the end.
Although the flow of the story gets a little slacked halfway through, right before the climax, it becomes impossible to stop watching out of the curiosity of what could happen next.
Like most gang films, ‘Paradise Beach’ has a few hits and quite a few misses.
The very first flaw that is obvious even to the uncritical eye is the stereotypical portrayal of Thailand’s lifestyle and culture, especially Phuket. Those who have explored the tropical destination would vouch for a lot more to Phuket’s life than Patong Beach, the sleazy nightclubs, and more prostitutes than local women. While the story might have demanded such elements, at most points in the movie, they seemed more like plug-in montages to boost viewership.
The plot also comes across as a bit clichéd, especially when Mehdi reunites with his gang and tries to turn them around.
It is almost like watching ‘Reservoir Dogs’ meets ‘Ocean’s 11’ in a millennial reprisal at an exotic Thai island, except the sleek, edgy touch of the characters and the story.
Our complaint is not about the characters. In fact, each of the characters seemed fine in their own right, whether it was acting or characterization.
The film's issues stem from the setting, the music, and the predictable action. At places, the background becomes so intriguing that the focus tends to shift away from the characters. Halfway through the film, the story almost loses its grip. The ending, however, is where the movie gets interesting and the last few minutes reveal a lot more plot than what the previous hour and fifty minutes could.
There were multiple interesting plot points like corrupt Thai police, a wife’s retribution, the perception of Thai people towards ‘foreigners’ and vice versa, and rampant gang wars in Phuket.
Perhaps it was the lack of focused direction, or simply lacunas in the story, that prevent the film from making the most of its key plotline.
What would otherwise have been a powerful, content-rich movie, eventually turns out to be weakly executed.
‘Paradise Beach’ is currently streaming on Netflix.