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Money Heist - Netflix Series Review

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

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.

Money Heist - Netflix Series Review
Money Heist

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.

The Plot of Money Heist

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
The Professor and his half-brother Berlin

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.

Rick and Morty's Heist Parody Episode

Taking a sharp turn from appreciating the heist genre to straight-up mocking this variety of plotlines, Rick and Morty does a decent job with a heist parody episode. Season 4 Episode 3 of the Rick and Morty animated series One Crew over the Crewcoo's Morty is really funny and reasonably accurate right down to the heisting background score.

One Crew over the Crewcoo's Morty Season 4 Episode 3
Rick's Instant Heist Team

Dan Harmon actually takes a shot at Money Heist itself by using a red origami artwork as the calling card of Rick's nemesis. This continues throughout the episode with all the expected heist clichés such as the smug looks, needlessly complicated takedowns, and so on.

Red Origami Calling Card of Miles Knightly in Rick and Morty
Does that seem familiar?

In the episode, Rick mentions early on that "stealing stuff is about the stuff, not the stealing." While it sounds like an off-the-cuff remark of someone who hates authority, it rings true on a few levels.

Donald Sutherland in the Italian Job 2003

If you remember what Donald Sutherland says to Mark Wahlberg in The Italian Job (2003) "There are two kinds of thieves in this world: the ones who steal to enrich their lives, and those who steal to define their lives."

It means that you should take time to smell the roses and live in the moment with gratitude as someone close to me keeps saying. Be mindful of the life you live and not live for the future or in the past.

The Cast of La Casa de Papel

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, and Denver/Daniel Ramos played by Jaime Lorente also deliver great performances with the other members of the cast.

The Characters

The personas of the heist members are far from one-dimensional with progressive character development throughout 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.

Berlin - Money Heist spin-off series

La Casa de Papel is a fast-paced, engaging, and thrilling adventure. But it always had its slow moments where the audience got to stop and smell the flowers.

With Berlin getting his own spin-off series, this will likely change the tone of the expected series. Berlin is a man of action, even if morally questionable, and of passion. He has a Ted Bundy energy to him with his inclination to violence but is also deliberate in the way he lives his life.

As the teaser trailer suggests, Berlin mixes business with pleasure, leading to explosive consequences on various levels of his heist. There seem to be other entanglements in the team as well, but none as determined as Berlin.

You will most probably also see what made Berlin the man he was when the later Money Heist took place. We will get to see how his worldview has changed with time and will get to do a before and after of Berlin's mindscape.

Symbolism in Money Heist

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 of revolution, with similar symbolism at play regarding the masks. The Salvador Dali mask represents the surrealist painter's rebellion against authority and national pride.

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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