After speaking with my family on Friday night, I switched the TV on nearly around 1 am knowing very well that I would not be sleeping until the next morning at 9 and that’s exactly what happened. Why? Two words – Money Heist.
Money Heist is a Spanish television series revolving around a heist that is surgically designed by the lead character named ‘The Professor’ (Álvaro Morte). The professor recruits 8 individuals with unique abilities to help him carry out the heist. Drawing parallel to Tarantino’s Reservoir Dog in which the robbers were given color-coded names, the professor gives city-based code names to his team. The professor goes on to train the recruits in every imaginable way possible i.e. from handling a gun to handling a surgical scalpel (in case someone gets shot).
Morte brings a different finesse to his character that is previously unseen in any of the roles he has portrayed. It is a testimony to the brilliant character development done by Álex Pina and Morte’s ability to enact it on screen. Morte isn’t the only protagonist in this series. The series is narrated from the point of view of Tokyo (Úrsula Corberó) who plays one of the recruits hired by the Professor. Corberó plays an eccentric and fierce character who acts on impulse and often runs into trouble while the heist is on. As the story unfolds, the storylines behind various characters are revealed and by the end, the audience starts to root and empathize with the Professor and his entourage. Since almost all the characters are fresh faces to the audiences in the US, it is marveling to see the chemistry between them.
With complex characters, non-linear storylining, Manel Santisteban’s brilliant music, and intelligent cliffhangers spread through the series, ‘Money Heist’ is the first non-English show that has gone to become the most-watched series on Netflix. So much so that just after airing on Netflix in mid-2017, Netflix acquired the global rights for the show which meant that seasons 3 & 4 were shot exclusively for Netflix. Released during the ‘shelter-in-place’ period in the COVID-19 times, Money Heist is a highly recommended international drama that is a must-watch.
Another interesting fact about Money Heist is it was one of the many shows that Netflix bought without intending to put any marketing dollar behind it. It was the sheer brilliance of the show that people began talking about it, sharing it with their friends and family and the rest is history.
Watching this international series reminded me of a quote from our beloved director Joon-Hu Bong’s speech, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.“