Berlin is not involved in almost 80% of the heist. So, how is Berlin taking a backseat in his standalone spin-off?
Much before the events of the five seasons of Money Heist, Berlin lands in Paris with a team of amateur robbers to carry out the most ambitious and risky heist. He falls in love in the course of the same, and what is left is the dilemma between love and job.
Money Heist: Berlin Review:
La Casa De Papel, aka Money Heist, caught us all off guard. It was technically a show that was borderline glorifying thieves by telling us that the ones they are stealing from are corrupt. The reverse mechanism made us root for these charming robbers who kind of got hold of our psyche and made us cheer for them. By the end of the fifth season when they walked away head held high, some of us were left questioning, did we cheer for a gang of thieves for five seasons? But the conviction and dedication with which Álex Pina and Esther Martínez Lobato made us believe in their world and kept us hooked are what did the magic.
Out of them all, Berlin was the most ruthlessly creepy character with ego replacing morals and greed replacing humanity. He was misogynistic, a murderer, a rapist, and whatnot, but many of us still ended up falling for that character. So much so that in the end we asked for a spin-off, and now it has been released on Netflix.
Starring Pedro Alonso and created by the same minds that created the internationally hit show, Berlin opens on an exciting note. The man in the center is going through his third divorce. He gathers a team of all misfits: a girl supremely low on confidence but talented with tech (Michelle Jenner as Keila), a pickpocket whom he calls his dog (Julio Peña as Roi), a woman with mental trauma but impressive riding skills (Begoña Vargas as Cameron), a professor who doubles up as a mastermind (Tristán Upload as Damian), and a rogue who is just trying to be attractive but is also skilled with weapons and machines (Joel Sánchez as Bruce).
If one looks at them, they are classic misfits who are not prepared to pull off one of the world's biggest heists. The base is set pretty well as they all come in and form a gang that is about to break into a vault. Their first job is to peep into the house next block, and that is where everything goes wrong in Berlin. In that house stays a woman Berlin falls in love with and begins a love story that the creators barter for the heist in a Money Heist prequel. There is so much to focus on in Berlin’s storyline, but the makers chose to show his thirst for a woman he desires and at what length he can go.
What happens is that the heist takes the backseat and is no longer the main conflict because Berlin is not involved in almost 80 percent of it. He is busy impressing the lady while the rest do all the work. The last time I checked, the show was supposed to be about BERLIN. How is Berlin himself taking a backseat? Money Heist teased so many things about him: his sexuality, his hunger for power, his anger for love, his son. But the makers are not interested in mentioning any of that here. While many of us expected an origin story, we were served a rehash of the same formula combined with a narrative that neither excites nor makes you believe in it.
Why do I call it a rehash? Whatever little of the heist there is in Berlin is not just predictable but flat for the most of it. You know the gang will survive; you have seen situations tougher. Maybe the bar was set too high by the same creative minds who are now not able to take it even higher or be at par. Even if the idea was to make the other members of the gang have their time, their stories end up being tick marks on a checklist because nothing grows to an extent where it becomes a complete narrative in itself. Keila is shy but is also a thief; her anxiety is her enemy. However, this is forgotten so quickly and brought only to show a transformation in the most random scene.
One of Berlin’s dialogues is, “Love disappears, you idiot! Love is not forever.” A very powerful line that, in a way, defined Berlin’s idea of love. But I would have loved it if the show was about how and why he reached a point where he religiously feels that way. The background music, VFX, set design, and acting performance are, of course, good since the men in charge have worked on five successful seasons of the source material. Pedro Alonso continues to be vicious but charming. The new team is a clan of good actors with Michelle Jenner being the best of them all. Joel Sánchez is also impressive as Bruce.
Money Heist: Berlin Verdict:
Berlin feels like we are the ones who have been robbed of an opportunity to see the origin story of a very interesting character. What we instead get is a rehash of the same old formula that doesn’t even feel like the same old friend.