Money Heist: You just cannot stop watching it until it actually ends
Show me a person who claims he is not fond of a heist thriller, and I will show you a liar. For a genre that has extensively been covered on cinema, it somehow manages to keep attracting even the most hardened of viewers back to itself. I guess it’s our inherent love for easy money, and these heist-capers are the perfect visual manifestation of that particular fantasy.
Spanish thriller La Casa de Papel is the latest player to enter this particular cinematic arena. It literally translates as the house of paper in Spanish, but for some inexplicable reason, Netflix decided to unimaginatively title it as Money Heist when they acquired the rights to air it on their platform.
The original Spanish show aired 15 episodes at 70 minutes per episode. But Netflix – keeping in mind the western viewer’s viewing habits – decided to show it in 50-minute episodes with the season split into two parts – episodes one to 13 in part one, and 14 to 22 in part two.
The plot revolves around eight robbers who attempt the most audacious heist in the history ever. Their target is to break into The Royal Mint of Spain on the day of a school field trip and stay in there for as long as it would take to print €2.4 billion in unmarked bills. The group is assisted by the enigmatic Professor (Álvaro Morte) from the outside who is the actual brains behind the whole operation.
Furnished with code names based on cities, the ones inside the Mint are led by the scheming Berlin (Pedro Alonso). Hot-headed Tokyo (Úrsula Corberó) and forgery specialist Nairobi (Alba Flores) provide the gang with female presence. Rio (Miguel Herrán) is the computer whizz-kid, while Helsinki (Darko Peric) and Oslo (Roberto García Ruiz) are the Serbian twins providing the pack with muscle. The father and son duo of Moscow (Paco Tous) and Denver (Jaime Lorente) round out the list of robbers present inside the money printing factory along with 70 odd hostages. Female inspector, Raquel Murillo (Itziar Ituño) is the one tasked with stopping this heist.
Before the group enters the Mint, they are given three rules by the Professor to pull off this meticulously crafted theft as cleanly as possible: No one can reveal their real name, there must be no personal questions, and personal relationships are not allowed. While the first two instructions are followed down to the tee, it’s the third rule, which threatens to completely unravel this seemingly perfect plan.
While Money Heist might not be the most well-written TV show there ever was, but it is still highly addictive. There are plot holes spread throughout the series, but the breakneck pace at which the narrative moves forward renders all of these flaws immaterial. Like a literary page-turner, you just cannot stop watching Money Heist until it actually ends. The characterisation is clichéd for the genre, but all the major characters are provided with some pretty snappy lines that prevent them from going stale and keep the audience hooked to their ultimate fate.
Another key factor that works in the show’s favour is how most of the ideas in the robbery plan are fresh and original.
Money Heist is also trying to be something more than meets the eye with its philosophical undertones of socialism versus capitalism. The Salvador Dali masks that are worn by the robbers along with their red overalls are a clear tribute to how the heist is an act of socialist rebellion against a capitalist society.
The production values are top-notch and wouldn’t look out of place on a major US cable network. Even the actors – despite the language barrier – manage to make the viewers empathetic towards them, with special mentions going out to Alonso who plays Berlin.
All in all, with a different milieu, Le Casa De Papel succeeds in capturing the true essence of a heist thriller along with providing your usual English movie/show watching viewer with something exotic. It might not be perfect, but it’s perfectly binge-worthy enough for one of your free weekends.
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