Junior aeronautics engineer Amanda Collier (Rachael Leigh Cook - The Lodger) has privately designed a revolutionary new way of slowing down engines but her boss, Brendan Cavanaugh (Richard Robitaille - Task Force), steals her idea and plans to pass off as his own. With the help of her brother, Steven (Graham Abbey - Angels and Ornaments), a public defence lawyer, they set about proving that Brendan stole the design and that Amanda is the rightful owner. Except in the middle of their negotiations Brendan is murdered and, with a reason to want him dead, Amanda is arrested.
One of the weaknesses of TV movies is usually they have a slim storyline and stretch it out to the 90 minute mark; it is not something you can criticise "Stealing Paradise" for. This is a movie which has a bit of everything taking us from the initial theft of Amanda's engine design, through Amanda being charged with murder, someone following her, someone trying to kill her brother till eventually we discover the truth. It's nicely worked because whilst you have to accept a fair few contrivances, such as the detectives on the slimmest evidence arresting Amanda, the movie nicely builds around a central story.
And because we have this story which builds we have various characters from Amanda and her lawyer brother, Steven, through to Brendan, his girlfriend, Elise, and various other lawyers and bosses. Add to that already full mix boyfriends, stalkers, detectives and attractive nurses and there are a lot of characters. In many ways that is the biggest problem with "Stealing Paradise" there are far too many characters and some of those which are unimportant get too much screen time. It means that whilst Amanda is a reasonably fleshed out character the rest of them are thinly written and often inconsistent. And it is one of these inconsistencies which will probably leave you a little disappointed by the way "Stealing Paradise" ends.
Inconsistency is an issue when it comes to Rachael Leigh Cook as Amanda as whilst the reasoning for her creating a revolutionary new engine system is solid it's hard to believe that Amanda is technical enough to have done it. Having said that through out the rest of the movie as the cheated young engineer, the innocent woman arrested and being fearful when someone follows her Cook delivers a solid performance. And solid is what can be said of the rest of the cast with no one standing out because making these inconsistent characters real was never going to happen.
What this all boils down to is that "Stealing Paradise" is a better than average TV movie because whilst it suffers from many of the usual flaws of the genre it does keep you engrossed in the guessing game of who is behind it all.