Creative Head: Álex Pina
Cinematography: David Azcano, Sergi Bartroli, Migue Amoedo
Starring: Úrsula Corberó, Itziar Ituńo, Álvaro Morte, Alba Flores, Pedro Alonso, Miguel Herran,
Jaime Lorente, Darko Peric
Money Heist or “La Casa de Papel” is a TV series designed by acclaimed director Álex Pina. This Spanish TV series title means “the paper house.” Spanish TUV channel Antenna 3 released this series first in Spain. It was later released for the world viewers through the popular streaming platform Netflix.
The director has initially thought of making ‘Money Heist’ a small single-season crime drama TV show that revolved around the story of some ambitious robbers robbing the Royal Mint of Spain. But, he was approached by the platform Netflix to make sequels and extend the series after it became an international success. This well-known series got critical applause and won the prestigious Emmy Award in 2018 at the Best Drama Series section.
This review is based on the first installment of the Money Heist series. The first series has a total of 25 episodes divided into Part 1 and part 12.
This series opens with the introduction of a gang od Spanish robbers coming from diverse economic and social backgrounds. All the characters have their past and have come together under the recruitment of a mysterious person. They call this unknown person,” Professor.” A professor is an ambitious man who wants to make possible the Impossible task of robbing the highly guarded Royal Mint of Spain.
The Professor tells the gang that they need fil the Royal Mint with their hostages so that the Spanish Government and the Police departments distracted. The Professor reveals that they do not need to steal the money; instead, the robbers need to print new euro notes while the Police are busy to recover the hostages.
So, it will allow everyone to become wealthy without stealing existing money from the Government. The members are asked to choose their code names from the names of famous world cities. Hence, they take up code names like Rio, Tokyo, Oslo, Moscow, Nairobi, Berlin, Denver, Helsinki. All the robbers are trained under the close monitoring of the Professor for days to prepare for their D-Day.
The gang completes its mission successfully. They enter the Royal Mint and take people, hostages, as planned. They complete the heist with inputs from Professor (who is outside) and manages to steal and flee with 2.4 billion new euros. But they lose two gang members from battle.
It is all about the Plan
“Money Heist” is different from the conventional Heist Dramas or Crime dramas. It does not offer a perfect plan and a smooth heist operation. Instead, it allows the viewers to watch as the team completes their heist with the help of Professor, although they make mistakes and lose teammates. This Heist drama does not have a full-proof plan like any conventional Heist series.
Instead, as the series progresses, the errors and dangerous loopholes of the plan are exposed, and the team works to make their way amidst the mistakes by their wit and guidance from the Professor. This show catches your attention because it is realistic; it is not error-free or smooth like typical heist movies. Instead, you can see the tension, the thrill of the members, how they make mistakes, and how they overcome it.
A viewer gets to experience the mistakes made by the robbers. But, every time they overcome the errors with the backup strategies planned by the Professor and with their wit. They can find a solution caused by their own mistakes amid the tense and chaotic situation. So, as an ordinary viewer, it might feel that the team had everything ready, which is not.
But, Alex Pina has designed the character of the Professor with care and creativity. This character comes with the needed vision and psychological thinking that can make this impossible task possible. He is totally into small details and has observed the Royal Mint and its tight security procedure to understand and design the plans.
Viewers get to see his psychological knowledge as he handles the police negotiation for the hostages, how the hostages behave, and how the Government responds to this heist. He can make a new backup plan for every small mistake and helps everyone to complete the robbery.
The past and how the team members are united
“Money Heist” does not live the history of the character hanging on your imagination. The director has given equal importance to each of the characters. So, you get to see the history of each member and how they ended up in this gang. The members are now facing the “do or die situation” in their life and desperately need to find any way to earn money. One member has a terminal illness, some are in debt, or someone has other problems.
But, they have a common goal- they need money, that too quickly. This need keeps them closely bound, and they unknowingly form a strong bond. The members are motivated because they dream about their new life with their share of the money, and they have nothing to lose in their life.
Unlike any other conventional series of the same genre, the team members do have their flaws. Some have taken the goal of acquiring money quite actively and do not hesitate to take lives to complete the task, which often opens the shortcoming and internal problems of the team. Their conflict nearly gets them caught by the Police, but they learn to work together. Inside the Royal Mint, they come closer to survive and try to put up with the resistance built by the hostages and the intense pressure of the Spanish Police.
THE Spanish Police Department is also portrayed in a realistic nature. You can see the tension between Inspector Raquel and Colonel Prieto as they have different ideologies regarding the hostages. Colonel is serving the Spanish Intelligence and complies with the government policies and desperately tries to protect the national classified pieces of information as he knows that Alison Parker, the daughter of the British Ambassador in Spain, has been kept as a hostage.
He takes this as a threat to his nation’s reputation and gives full priority to Parker because she is an important key, and any harm to her can result in diplomatic tension between Spain and England. He forces his idea on Inspector Raquel. But Raquel has a past that involves corrupted diplomacy along with domestic torment. So, she can’t trust the system fully and tries to find an empathetic solution, although she knows she might have to break some laws herself.
This conflict hampers the attempt of the Police to infiltrate the Royal Mint to rescue the hostages. The police department and the Government learn that the Professor is way more intelligent than they assumed, and they need to work smartly. Hence, Raquel and Prieto patch-up and agree on Raquel’s plan to free the hostages as soon as they can.
This transformation of the gang and the Police department does not happen dramatically. Both sides realize the strength of their opponent and themselves. So, each side starts to gather their power to fight the war.
They are Humans after all
The main difference of the Crime drama” Money Heist” is that it does not portray the robbers as killers. They are desperate for money, and they break the law, steal cash, but they do not harm anyone. They are described as humans. The Professor states that there will be some regulations and rules that every member needs to follow. They should not kill any innocent hostage, or they should not be involved in any relationship during the heist. This keeps everything professional and allows the robbers to show their human side.
The scene where the character with code name Moscow suffers from a heart attack after hearing his son Denver has killed one hostage proves that the robbers still have their human ethics intact to a small extent. Moscow tells his son that they are there for robbery, not for killing people. But the killing news is revealed as false, and the drama goes on. Another scene that involves disagreement among members when Tokyo proposes to use Russian Roulette to question Berlin. They disagree because the method is unethical, although they know how dangerous Berlin can be.
But, the Police do not show any type of human side except Inspector Raquel. They follow the orders blindly and only believe in the law. But, their dependence on their higher authority causes the Police to lose their determination, and you can see the crack clearly with the argument between Prieto and Raquel. Prieto only aims to rescue Parker at first because she is the daughter of the British ambassador. He does not want to treat everyone equally. He is only interested in keeping the image of his nation interacting, even with the cost of losing the lives of numerous innocent people.
On the other hand, you see Alberto Vicuna, who is Inspector Raquel’s Ex-husband, to falsely accuse the Professor with the charge of physically assaulting a police officer. However, it is Vicuna who initiates the physical fight. This gives a clear message; not every police officer is a symbol of honesty. Police can have the wrong purpose, too, and have selfish and stubborn ideas.
In the end, the robbers can escape the Royal Mint, although they lose two of their team members. The Police failed to solve this Epic heist because they only have to obey what the higher authority dictates and are keener on protecting their image and reputation than the hostages and the money.
The shock comes as Inspector Raquel switches sides. She is someone who defects the law as she loses all her belief in the law. She experiences the judge is unable to protect her daughter and her from the threats and abuses of her Ex-husband, Alberto, although there is a restraining order. She experiences the corruption of the higher authority carefully and also tallies her present situation with the offer from the Professor.
Her mental belief crashes, and she stops helping the Police. The Professor offers Raquel a part of the money, and she joins them. She switches sides and also throws away her previous principles and aims to find the right justice for her, without the help of law and order.
The series” Money Heist” is mostly about the ‘heist’ only. It forces you to look beyond the robbery. It depicts the struggle of the team and their human side. The drama series also portrays the two different faces of the Police and Government. The robbers with orange jumpsuits ask to seem more human as the story approaches the end. On the other hand, the police department clad in Black suits just represents the authority.
It does not follow the set idea of justice imposed by society. It clearly states that life events allow a person to choose what is wrong and what is right. It also proves that friendships and collaborations can happen under any circumstance. The series has the right amount of emotions, drama, action, and thrilling moments which make it one of the best series to watch over.