Metascore
54

Mixed or average reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 22
  2. Negative: 3 out of 22
  1. 88
    The director, Joseph Ruben ("The Stepfather," "Sleeping With the Enemy"), uses a kind of flat, logical storytelling that leads us inexorably toward his conclusions.
  2. 88
    Directed with great skill and intelligence by Joseph Ruben, Return to Paradise, is a rare thing among today's movies a drama of conscience. [14 Aug1 998, Pg.51]
  3. Return to Paradise is "Midnight Express" remade from the outside, as existential quandary. It has the moody, disquieting undertow of a true moral thriller.
  4. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    80
    Return to Paradise doesn't boast many surprises. It's straight-on, morally uncomplicated. Emotionally, though, it's dense and twisty -- and smashingly potent.
  5. None of the moral ramifications of this dilemma is avoided, and to the film’s credit the behavior of the American press seems more questionable than the machinations of third-world justice.
  6. A potential problem with the movie is that it can be a challenge watching people hand-wringing over moral decisions. But the acting is so good that it makes it worth sticking with during the slow patches.
  7. This movie has a first-rate script, and director Joseph Ruben ( "True Believer," "The Stepfather" ) knew exactly what to do with it.
  8. 75
    The film's ending is a little unanticipated, and, although there are a few too many surprise revelations in the last 20 minutes, they all work reasonably well to enhance, rather than diminish, the central theme.
  9. As returns go, Return To Paradise falls short of heavenly, but it does get to the stars -- at least three of them.
  10. Reviewed by: Anthony Miele
    70
    Although there are a few other flaws in the film (flaws that will not be mentioned since it would give away major plot points) and the lack of character development is a major oversight by the filmmakers, Return to Paradise still manages to grip you until the fateful ending, an ending that is very powerful and must be witnessed to be believed.
  11. 63
    Despite solid performances from the leads, it comes shrouded in a heavy cloud of ethics-class complications that makes it feel like a "dilemma of the week" TV movie.
  12. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    60
    A gripping modern morality tale with a credible cast and a compelling premise. The film is heavy on self examination and will make you think: what would you do?
  13. The film's cool, sober texture and its clever characters are often more interesting than the larger plot.
  14. 50
    What if director Joseph Ruben didn't resort to B-movie suspense tricks? What if the fine cast wasn't saddled with a shamelessly contrived script by Wesley Strick and Bruce Robinson? Then Return to Paradise would be a better movie, that's what if.
  15. The story raises challenging moral and legal questions but loses energy in a miscalculated romantic subplot.
  16. Reviewed by: John Krewson
    50
    Although Vaughn and Heche do a decent job in standard roles, the movie bogs itself down with enough silly plot twists and subplots to effectively dilute the viewers' interest.
  17. 40
    There are, of course, the requisite trial sequences, and some mildly horrific shocks along the way, but Ruben and company fail to make any of this very interesting.
  18. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    40
    None of the characters is given much depth or meaningful backgrounding, leaving the capable thesps with plenty of anguish and emotion to play but not much else.
  19. 40
    The best reason to stay with it is Vaughn, whose lanky wryness wards off the threat of pomposity. The worst reason is Jada Pinkett Smith, who gets stuck with a thankless role as the unwittingly lethal villain -- a newspaper journalist, of course.
  20. Reviewed by: Scott Kelton Jones
    30
    Instead of a gripping, conscience-bending thriller, Paradise plods along, determined to be some sort of master chess game ruminating on personal and cultural value systems and the complex and often contradicting facets of loyalty, honesty, friendship, love, responsibility, self-preservation, and exploitation.
  21. Though the Strick-Robinson script is solid from line to line, the film's plot is finally too implausible for anyone to rescue.
  22. Unfortunately, the dramatic potential of such a moral quandary is left largely unmined in director Joseph Ruben's monotonous parlor game of will-he-won't-he. [14 Aug 1998, Pg. N.39]

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