Money Heist is one of those series that at least one of your friends/family has seen, but you have been putting off. It might be because of the lame title, the language barrier, or lack of interest in the heist genre. Whatever the case may be, I recommend you give it a shot.
Netflix completely bungled the name of this Spanish series whose original title is the infinitely cooler "La Casa de Papel" or "The House of Paper." The language barrier is not a real reason to miss out on this binge-able series, as Netflix has offered English audio. Sure, some of the nuances in dialogue are lost in translation, but the translated audio is pretty good, retaining the essentials.
Coming to the audience expectations from the done to death heist genre - they do give it a slightly different treatment. The stakes in this series are higher than expected, with the gang taking on the government establishment itself. There's personal redemption and growth in characters through tragedy, heartbreak, and other consequences of the human condition.
Money Heist revolves around the story of a son avenging his father's death at the hands of the police. Sergio Marquina spent his childhood listening to his father narrating tales of adventure to him, not realizing that his dad was the actual protagonist in those stories. When his father dies in the midst of a heist, he decides to take on the social establishment that took the life of his father.
He starts his plans early, by not registering his identity from the age of 19, keeping himself off the grid. Adopting his father's grand plan of robbing the Royal Mint of Spain along with his half-brother Andrés de Fonollosa, Sergio designs a fool-proof master plan. They together with other like-minded ne'er-do-wells come together for the heist of a lifetime.
Money Heist Season 1 starts with the gang training for the most important event of their lives. The Professor is seen explaining the rationale behind their quest with his fundamental rules. No blood spilled, no relationships within the team, and no personal details like names. Enter Berlin (Andrés de Fonollosa), Tokyo (Silene Oliveira), Nairobi (Ágata Jiménez), Oslo (Dimitri Mostovói) , Helsinki (Mirko Dragic), Moscow (Agustin Ramos), Rio (Miguel Herrán) and Denver (Daniel Ramos). What follows is how they complete the heist, even though each rule is gradually broken.
Money Heist Season 2 is equally enjoyable as the first and I'm sure fans of the first series will complete all series until 4.
La Casa de Papel has amazing casting, with each actor oozing charm, charisma, and intensity. And it doesn't hurt that most, if not all the central characters also look stunning. The clean-cut and handsome look of Pedro Alonso is a good contrast to the sociopathic and unstable character he plays. Úrsula Corberó's (shown below on the right) stunning and sharp features complement her impulsive character nicely.
Raquel Murillo (shown above on the far left) played to perfection by Itziar Ituño sizzles onscreen with her caramel tan, and shares great chemistry with Sergio/the professor, played by Álvaro Morte. Rio/Miguel Herrán played by Aníbal Cortés, Denver/Daniel Ramos played by Jaime Lorente also deliver great performances with the other members of the cast.
The personas of the heist members are far from one-dimensional with progressive character development through the series. For example, Sergio's character is that of an analytical thinker, with slight social impairment and shyness. The professor's insecurities and repressed need for love and company lead to a significant character arc for more than one person in the series. Berlin's character displays countless shades of grey throughout the series with him taking an irreversible shot at redemption along the way. Tokyo sees her self-destructive pattern play out more than once and Raquel learns to love and trust again.
Money Heist serves as a commentary on socio-economic inequality. It shows how the systems we have in place to maintain order don't necessarily benefit all of society. The red jumpsuits worn by the gang in this series represent the color revolution, with similar symbolism at play regarding the masks. The Salvador Dali mask represents the surrealist painter's rebellion against authority and national pride.
All throughout this series, the gang targets the government and not individuals or private establishments. The professor talks about how public support is needed for the heist to go smoothly. At one point Sergio also explains how the money from the mint doesn't go to the people, but the bankers.
Should You Watch It? - Absolutely!
Despite the violence and slightly graphic nature of this series, it is definitely worth a watch. I personally prefer my heists to be as in "The Italian Job" (2003) where violence is not necessary to make a point. But this series is worth enduring such bursts of violence and the slight telenovela feel of the series narrative by Tokyo. You are sure to complete at least one series once you start the first episode.
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