'Money Heist': A high-5 for this hostage melodrama

Five seasons down the line, the same torrent of trigger-happy characters continue to blaze a blather of action, punctuated by bouts of sex and drama

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Subhash K Jha

Heist makes waste. It’s always more fun to condense films about fugitives on the run into a 2-hour feature film. Which is why I prefer B R Chopra’s 36 Ghante to Money Heist which runs into a good (?) 20 hours of our precious time, if we count all the episodes from 2017 when the series first caught global attention.

5 seasons down the line, the same torrent of trigger-happy characters continue to blaze a blather of action, punctuated by bouts of sex and drama. Everything including an abortion, some quickie sex and a romantic gay track unfolds within the hostage situation. The tension at trigger point is frequently forgotten.

In 2019 when Applause Entertainment did a similar heist drama in Hostages (directed by Sudhir Mishra) it stuck to the hostage-negotiation issue and wrapped up the messy situation with a semblance of grace. I wouldn’t say Money Heist is graceless. But its vivacity and vigor gets progressively weak and debilitate. By the time we come to Season 5, the stress is not so much on the stressful hostage situation as creating an amplified ambience for expansive action.

The guns are bigger, and they blaze with emphatic enthusiasm. But the drama feels forced, strained. The human aspect is drowned in the din of violent humour and sarcastic exchanges. While it’s good to see the robbers now being helmed by a woman code-named—hold your tourist visas-- Lisbon (Itziar Ituño) I just thought the earlier fugitive’s leader Berlin(Pedro Alonso) was so much more chilling in his suaveness.

Empowering the plot with feminine power is all very well. But watching women shooting their way through a thick smog of machismo is nothing but a façade of feminism. Soon the cover is blown and we see that the women (with machineguns) are only mimicking their male colleagues in their masquerade of machismo.


The pretensions of gravity in Season 5 notwithstanding, the series remains fun to watch, though I thought the earlier negotiator Raquel(Itziar Ituno) was so much more fun to watch than her current counterpart the pregnant Alice Sierra (Najwa Nimri) who comes across as comicbook caricaturish in her kneejerk agility.

The performances remain uniformly unidimensional. The characters haven’t really evolved from the first season. Rio(Miguel Herrán) remains disarmingly boyish even while indulging in adult games like slaying and fornicating. Tokyo(Úrsula Corberó) remains fascinatingly ambivalent .She is both narrator and perpetrator. She wants to have Rio and eat him too.In other words a classic Money Heist character.

“This country loves crazy men,” is a classic ‘pique’-up line from the series.As Julie Andrews famously said, it never reins-in in Spain.

This series could be fun for those who enjoy watching hostages cower, urinate and even abort (and we are not talking about the mission) . But the pleasure, we gradually realize, is fugitive.

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