La Casa de Papel (Money Heist)

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Reviewed by: Alicia Glass
Published on: July 6, 2022

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Led by a mysterious figure known only as the Professor, a group of 8 people with city names for aliases, take on the heist of a lifetime from inside the Royal Mint of Spain!

Movie Moxie absolutely adores shows like these – an incredibly clever central figure with a grudging axe to grind, who convinces a group of followers to enact a daring plan that would normally get laughed at for plausibility, something to stick it to The Man and win a victory (and a f*ck-ton of money) for the common people! A 5-part story told in three sectional seasons, the show features time-jumps, flashbacks, hidden character motives, an “unreliable narrator”, spans the entire gamut of human emotions and motivations, and will have you cheering for freedom by the end!

Known for their distinctive red jumpsuits and Salvador Dali masks, not to mention the rather large and real guns they’re packing, the robbers storm the Royal Mint of Spain and take hostages, but that’s the barest hint of a beginning, and only skates over the start of the Professor’s genius plan to smuggle out upwards of €900 million out under the very noses of the cops, the Spanish Central Nacional de Inteligencia or CNI (their equivalent of the FBI or similar intelligence agencies), and the common people who’ve come out to root for them!

We begin not with the Professor, but the unreliable narrator, the enticing and bugshit-crazy Tokyo, also rarely known as Silene Oliviera (Ursula Corbero). Recruited early as one of the very first of the Professor’s crew and particularly beloved by him, Tokyo acts unofficially as the heart of the group, quick to find words of comfort and violent encouragement when the sh*t hits the fan, she never shies away from cheerful destruction to bring her point across. Tokyo loves just as fiercely as she fights, and it’s actually her reluctance to suffer to be tamed in a life of domesticity that leads to a daring if necessary rescue plan that opens Season 2, Part 3 of Money Heist!

Nairobi, also occasionally known as Agata Jimenez (Alba Flores), is an expert of counterfeiting and forgery, personally overseeing the money printing and gold smelting, always loudly encouraging and determined to move things along at a breakneck pace. She acts as the hands of the gang, forever gesturing, pointing out, circling back together when it all seems to be falling apart.

Berlin, the older and terminally-ill brother of the Professor, is a former jewel thief with a past full of betrayal, and not always from Berlin himself. Rarely called Andres de Fonollosa (Pedro Alonso), Berlin is the mouthpiece of the gang, a smooth-talking, elegantly bisexual man who loves to steal the finer things in life, he is never without a quip just sharp enough with truth to hurt, even a little.

Denver (Jaime Lorente) is the guts of the gang, passionate and roiling and reluctant, young and hot-headed and prone to geyser-like outbursts of emotion, he wears his heart like armor and is perpetually ready to f*ck some sh*t up. Denver is almost always the would-be trigger man, the over-eager grunt tossed to the front lines, never in charge but never afraid to lead the charge, Denver has guts for days and can always be counted on to lift the rest of the gang when things are falling apart! It should also be noted that it’s because of Denvers various passions that we get a new member of the gang somewhere along the way, the more than mildly crazy Monica Gaztambide (Esther Acebo), who adopts the most appropriate gang moniker ever – Stockholm!

Moscow (Paco Tous), father to Denver and a former miner turned criminal with the rest of our gang, serves as the blood of our combined gang-body, a connection that flows below the surface between everyone, a calming influence that is no slouch in the brains department either.

Then there’s Rio, known eventually by the cops as Anibal Cortes (Miguel Herran), hacker and lover of Tokyo, the perpetual baby of the gang, always in need of saving. Rio is the thyroid gland of the entire gang, the entirely necessary computer hacker that’s generally ignored until desperately needed, or until it begins acting strangely, both of which happens to and not because-of Cortes.

Helsinki (Darko Peric) and his cousin Oslo (Roberto Garcia Ruiz) are of course the meat and muscle of the operation, both veteran Serbian soldiers always ready to utterly destroy the opposition with their intimidating sizes, explosives, and appetite for destruction!

We’ve saved the absolute best for last, because really, the Professor (Alvaro Morte) as the brains of the operation is like sex on toast for a sapiophile like Moxie! Hardly cutting any kind of striking figure, the Professor looks exactly as his moniker sounds – glasses, shirt-sleeves, adorably ruffled puppy-dog hair, skewed tie, harried, lovable expression. And yet somehow, the Prof is the whole of the entire heist, or series of heists, the soul of the group who drives with his passion and determination and ultimately, love, of not only years-long vengeance in the making, but the people he chose to surround himself with for this caper, who became family in the crucible of this trial. Stuck together in some Spanish villa in the countryside for months on end, planning and working and training together under the Professor’s calm, assured guidance, the gang unites under their patriarch and sets out to enact the most daring heist in history!

Plenty of bumbling cops, corrupt CNI officials, and other would-be credit-takers coalesce to try and get our robbers out of the Royal Mint by means fair or foul, but the most important of them is Inspector Raquel Murillo (Itziar Ituno), placed in charge of the original Mint heist. By Part 3, there is no more Raquel, she is now Lisbon and gleefully sporting a crimson jumpsuit and a Dali mask with the rest of them!

The love and care shown in each and every episode to the lost, the forgotten, the marginalized and the repressed – most especially in the LGBTQIA+ community – is truly impressive, and comes across in a beautifully haunting way. For a show fraught with the spectrum of human emotions, a daring plan pulled off by some incredibly zany characters, and the determination to seize justice with your own two hands, Money Heist is an incredible adventure worth repeated viewings!