The Netflix original Spanish drama series about a group of individuals hunting down former Nazis in 60s Madrid should have offered a lot more than it did.
The plot revolves around a woman who survived the infamous Mauthausen concentration camp during the Holocaust and is now seeking revenge against the Nazi officers, who tortured and killed her family, and have now found refuge in Spain after World War II. She joins a group of individuals whose mission aligns with hers.
The entire premise of the plot and the 60s setting of Madrid is an exciting combination that can get someone easily invested in the show. The hunt for modern history’s most infamous individuals alone as a dramatised adaptation should be an enticing prospect on its own - similar to the Amazon Prime series Hunters starring Al Pacino and Logan Learman. The Netflix series is blessed with rich colours in its cinematography, which has visibly enhanced the 60s aesthetic of the show.
Jaguar doesn’t waste any time in introducing the central characters and their acts in the narrative. The lead character Isabel, played by Blanca Suárez, is portrayed as a deeply traumatised survivor of the Holocaust. Her obsession with hunting down former Nazis sets the tone for the entire series. Her pain is essayed through a few flashback sequences from her time as a young girl at Mauthausen. The sequences have a sombre lighting and grey colours to visually signify the darkness which has engulfed the lives of those ostracised and dehumanised by the ideology of the Third Reich.
The visuals and the background for the characters have been tactfully done, however, how these characters interact with each other is tacky at best. The screenplay does not do justice to these intriguing characters despite them being stereotypical. There is the charming leader of the group, Lucena (Iván Marcos), the wise old man of the group, Marsé (Francesc Garrido), the brooding silent one, Deaf Man/Sordo (Adrián Lastra), the brash and reckless youngster, Castro (Óscar Casas), and of course, the young and rebellious Isabel. One might be forgiven if they were to mistake these characters for those from the Hollywood film The Italian Job in a parallel universe. That being said, it does necessarily constrain the story, and it can even be considered as one of its few strengths.
The writing and the pacing on the other hand are inconsistent throughout the series, and the narrative is riddled with plot holes. The most disappointing aspect however was the less than impressive action sequences which were overtly stylised but poorly choreographed. These action sequences were at times overcompensating for the lack of a coherent narrative. While the historical aspect is engrossing at times, especially with the focus given to real-life Nazi officer Aribert Heim, also known as Dr. Death/Butcher of Mauthausen - infamous for conducting gruesome experiments on prisoners without anesthetic. While not as notorious as the Angel of Death of Auschwitz, Josef Mengele, Heim was a significant figure in history who fled to Africa after the war.
Even though the plot centres around the team’s mission to capture Heim before he flees to Egypt, he is not the primary antagonist. The villain of the story is a fictional character called Otto Bachman, another Nazi officer protected under the fascist regime in Spain. Furthermore, The political commentary of the story is also skewed. It champions itself as an anti-fascist narrative with scathing attacks on the Nazis and General Franco’s regime in Spain at the time whilst romanticising the socialist movement in France post-World War II. All of this is tossed outside the window in the final episode which stresses Spanish nationalism - which is disappointing because the final episode was easily the best-written episode of the series.
The series has a few moments where it shines but it is ultimately unnecessarily drawn out and a waste of potential.