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Netflix's Kaleidoscope review: A regular heist drama that depends heavily on gimmicks

The New Year’s Day limited series has all the staples of a heist, but lacks the thrills and punches required to become a successful one 

Netflix's Kaleidoscope review: A regular heist drama that depends heavily on gimmicks

A poster of Kaleidoscope

Last Updated: 10.41 AM, Apr 23, 2024


Story: Leo Pap (Giancarlo Esposito), a criminal mastermind, enlists a crew of thieves – Ava Mercer (Paz Vega), Stan Loomis (Peter Mark Kendall), Judy Goodwin (Rosaline Elbay), Bob Goodwin (Jai Courtney), RJ Acosta (Jordan Mendoza) and the inside woman, Hannah Kim (Tati Gabrielle). The target of this 25-years-in-the-making heist is security magnate Roger Salas (Rufus Sewell), from whom they plan to steal bonds worth $7 billion. But greed, jealousy, betrayal and other threats get in the way of their ambitious plans.

Review: Netflix released its nonlinear limited-series heist Kaleidoscope on January 1, hoping that it would be the ultimate New Year's Day binge. The PR machinery behind the show’s ‘unique’ (not completely, though) storyline meant that audiences’ interest was piqued, managing to grab enough eyeballs. 

Created by Eric Garcia, the show will remind one of the 2020 series Interrogation and Netflix’s 2018 Black Mirror: Bandersnatch episode. But it may not be as memorable. 

The format of the limited series is such that it lets you watch all but the last episode in any jumbled order you like, in seven colour-coded episodes – Violet, Pink, Red, Orange, Blue, Green, Yellow – all culminating in the 'White: The Heist' finale. This means that you could first be introduced to the criminal crew, the preliminary heist, a FBI agent chasing the crew, some flashbacks, or to Leo. Luckily for me, the series began with ‘Violet: 24 years before the heist’. This was a good place to start, since it explained the motive behind the heist and set the base for the story before a significant time jump in the next episode, Blue. I doubt if my experience would have been as good if the series had begun at any other point – probably not, since one can feel a bit at sea at some points in the series. 


Kaleidoscope has all the formulae required for the genre – revenge, redemption, regret, jealousy and explosive tempers, but does the story fail to keep you engaged in the name of sticking to the gimmicky storyline? Unfortunately it does, at least in parts. 

While the makers have tried to maintain a sense of authenticity of the time period that a particular episode is set in, in terms of the characters’ looks and the setting (especially in Violet: 24 years before the heist), one has to rely on the name of the episode to really know where they currently are in the story. What is jarringly absent is the interesting build up to the climax, which is arguably the most important factor in such a genre.

The jumbled up format of the show also harms the all-important character build up, which helps one stay immersed in any story. So, you really don’t get to know why Bobby is so brash and flares up at the drop of a hat. Or why RJ isn't taken seriously, or if Judy is in an abusive relationship that she secretly wants to escape or is she all-in?

Verdict: Does Kaleidoscope fail? No, it doesn't. It does manage to entertain and there are moments that will leave you surprised. But is it a heist story worthy of a binge-watching session? The simple answer is, no. 


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