An action-packed adventure that will keep you roused every minute of the way. And what’s better? You can learn some Spanish words while you’re at it!
What’s it about?
La Casa De Papel (House of Paper) aka Money Heist is a Spanish crime-drama series that was originally aired on a Spanish Network in 2017 and was eventually picked up by Netflix in 2018. Spanning across four intense, thrilling parts, the latest was released only recently in April 2020.
Centered around a criminal Brainiac referred to as The Professor (Alvaro Morte), a group of eight fearless people with nothing to lose are summoned by The Professor for a mission to execute a heist on The Royal Mint of Spain. While the first two parts trace this elaborate break-in, the next two parts are centered around a second heist planned by the professor on the Bank of Spain.
The series begins with The Professor, the kingpin of the gang, devising a plan to break into The Royal Mint by taking close to seventy commoners hostage and printing billions of euros. All this, while being dressed in bright red overalls and outlandish Salvador Dali masks. Of course, everything does not pan out exactly as planned. Alex Pina, the creator of Money Heist, employs an engaging storytelling tool that narrates the story in real-time and using intermittent flashbacks to explain the mind games and planning before it was carried out.
The show also employs a refreshing take by relating the heist from the perspective of a woman. Tokyo (Ursula Corbero), one of the gang members, is the periodic narrator who also highlights the emotional dynamics involved within the group. There’s action, deceit, passionate love affairs, manipulation- all enclosed within one show. Keeping up with the convoluted game plan(s) by The Professor may be challenging, and you may spot a few loopholes, but it proves to be wildly entertaining nonetheless.
Code-named after major cities of the world, each of these members is a genius of their own kind, proficient in one or more skills that define them. While one is a hacker, another is an expert at forgery. On the right side of the law, we have Raquel Murillo (Alvaro Morte), an inspector of the National Police Corps who heads the case to track down The Professor. The show spins an unexpected, fateful twist when she begins to fall for the Professor himself (unaware that he was the mastermind behind the heist). At this point, the series will pique your interest if it hadn’t already. No spoilers! Part three and four introduce a host of new members in the gang as they embark on yet another larceny after, in an unforeseen turn of events, one of them gets caught and held captive by law enforcement agents.
Why’s it Different?
One of the numerous notable aspects of the series is how it doesn’t shirk away from employing women in powerful positions of authority that are most often portrayed to be held by men. While the first two parts have Raquel Murillo, the next two have Alicia Sierra (Najwa Nimri) as the head of the police force, who doesn’t let her pregnancy hinder either her job, or her being uncompromisingly fierce. Although many have acknowledged that it feels unnecessarily stretched by the fourth part, as the story progresses it’s fascinating to see how Money Heist isn’t just about planning and executing the robbery by itself, but how aspects of loyalty, deceit, love and fraternity play equally pivotal roles as the heist itself.
By the third part, contrary to what the Professor had in mind, the undermined power of the heart prevails in many ways. We see this exemplified as we learn the history behind the Professor’s motive for the heist, and his relationship with Berlin (Pedro Alonso). Good luck getting the Bella Ciao anthem out of your head! Underneath all the high-octane energy, the series also entails a rather anti-capitalist philosophical undertone that questions the authority of the government, banks, and the system as a whole – voicing the obscure thoughts of many.
Money Heist justifiably procured significant traction within months of its arrival on Netflix. It soon became the most-watched non-English series and its impact has been profound. The identifiable masks and red overalls costume became a symbol of rebellion and protests all over the world, like in Puerto Rico and the French city of Nantes. Give this one a watch and satiate your escapist tendencies!