Bank Heist with a Twist

September 22, 2019 at 6:21 PM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This article contains mild spoilers of La Casa de Papel (a.k.a Money Heist). Read at your own risk.

 

It’s not uncommon to hear about people who are named after a city – Paris, Florence, Geneva, etc. But it’s not common to see almost an entire cast of characters in a TV show who are named after global cities. And that’s part of the attraction of La Casa de Papel, the Spanish TV show that took the world by storm last year. Most of the characters on the show are named after a city – Tokyo, Berlin, Denver, Nairobi, Helsinki, Moscow, Rio, and Oslo.

I admit that I hadn’t heard about this show in 2018 but it eventually caught my attention this year because of the worldwide publicity it’s getting and word of mouth on social media. At first I thought La Casa de Papel was just another mushy telenovela so I didn’t pay much attention to it. But when it was heavily promoted by Netflix (under an English title called Money Heist) and a lot of people were tweeting about it, I got curious and checked it out. And I instantly loved it.

I didn’t mind that the show was in Spanish as I’m used to watching foreign films with English subtitles. Netflix had the show dubbed in English but I preferred the original Spanish version because I loved hearing the actors’ actual voices. Besides, the characters’ emotions couldn’t be captured perfectly by the English dub.

One of the things that drew me to the show was its unique premise. It’s not a typical story about a bank heist. It’s more than that. It’s about a bunch of brazen bank robbers who decided to rob the Royal Mint of Spain – by printing their own money while holed up inside. Each robber had their own personal reasons for taking the job, and viewers got to see their emotional journey throughout the show’s three parts (the show is written in parts, not seasons as is the standard in US shows).

Another major draw for me was Raquel Murillo, the police inspector assigned to negotiate with the robbers during the bank heist. I’m always drawn to strong female characters on a show and Raquel is no exception. She has that commanding presence that pulls you in with her personal back story. She’s strong, smart and able to stand her ground against her male counterparts, and even against the mastermind of the heist who preferred to be known only as “The Professor.” But behind her strong persona also lies a vulnerable side, and this gave her character more depth.

Speaking of the professor, he’s one interesting and intriguing character as well. In part 1 of the show, the professor was somewhat of a mystery. Viewers only knew him as this dorky, awkward but brilliant man who hired and trained the robbers to commit the biggest bank heist in the country’s history. There wasn’t much back story given except for the fact that he was a sickly child who spent most of his childhood and teenage years in a hospital. But later on in part 2, viewers got a glimpse of his personal life and how he’s related to his fellow robber Berlin. More of that relationship was explored in the show’s part 3, which ended in a cliffhanger.

I must say that the show’s parts 1 and 2 were their strongest. Part 3 was a bit underwhelming for me, with several loopholes and unnecessary scenes to beat. Now that the show recently wrapped up production of part 4, I’m hoping that the latest edition will be as gripping and action-packed as the previous parts and that the characters will be fully fleshed out and developed further, especially the professor.

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