Money Heist Season 4 review: A lukewarm attempt to live up to its exalted standards
This new season gets your adrenaline pumping, but just not as consistently
The successful heist at the Royal Mint of Spain set the bar high for Money Heist (La Casa de Papel as it's called in Spanish), and helped it become Netflix’s most popular non-English language series. Now with all eyes on season four of the crime-thriller, about the second part of the heist at the Bank of Spain, the stakes are higher than ever. By the end of last season, the Professor (Alvaro Morte), the mastermind of the project, had lost all control and Nairobi (Alba Flores) was bleeding to death. This new season too gets your adrenaline pumping, but just not as consistently.
Cast: Ursula Corbero, Itziar Ituno, Alvaro Morte, Jaime Lorente, Darko Peric, Pedro Alonso, Miguel Herran, Esther Acebo, Alba Flores, Najwa Nimri and Rodrigo De la Serna
Creator: Álex Pina
This time around, the heist is not the Professor’s original plan, there are not as many rules, Raquel Murillo (Itziar Ituño) is in custody, not a single person from the eight-member team is capable of leadership, and the gist is, it is hard to say if the new team members are up for the task. All the chaos keeps you guessing, and yet, there isn’t a ‘ticking bomb’ to keep you on your toes. The makers seem to have overlooked the importance of 'time' in this heist, and for lack of urgency, you are not as thrilled as you should be.
After a point, it also begins to feel a little stretched. I guess it’s designed as the Professor says in one of the episodes: ‘How about we forget common sense?’
The non-linear screenplay isn't enough to fuel this urgency, and only serves to break the built-up tension in the present. The visuals work though. Be it the international locations, or the stunning architecture of the Bank of Spain, in which most of the scenes are set, the visuals are arresting.
These are some of the strongest characters, but the novelty in their craziness, which kept the suspense high in previous seasons, has worn off. There is an air of predictability. The fairly new character, Alicia Sierra (Najwa Nimri), a pregnant cop who refuses to play by the rulebook, tries to fill this vacuum. All you know about her is, she won't hesitate to go to extremes to be on the winning side. Speaking of performances, there are a few high points: Like watching the Professor break down, or when one of the beloved characters, Rio (Miguel Herrán) recalls his traumatic experiences in police custody, or when one of the lead characters meets their fate...
This season also has flashbacks of a hated character, Berlin (Pedro Alonso). You can see why, as the performance of Palermo (Rodrigo De la Serna), even with the ‘villain’s eye-patch’, fails to work as effectively as Berlin.
Feminism continues to take centre stage in the show. In this male-dominated setting with little moralising, a woman proves she’s fearless and shows up the men. While some women are rebellious and don’t hesitate to throw a punch or two in the face of patriarchy, not all are strong-willed. Amid a tense heist, to see women co-existing with men and being their own persons, is admirable.
The season really kicks off after one of the hostages, Gandia (José Manuel Poga), also the security chief at The Bank of Spain, takes centre stage. The sequences between Gandia and the heist team are a highlight.
Curiously, the heist is no longer about the money, with some coming off as burglars without a motive. What starts as a mission to rescue Rio, soon gets to a point where you are in a dilemma whether to root for them.
Beneath all these flaws, as a loyalist following this show for nearly three years, there’s still a little too much fondness left for The Professor... and the creator of the show (Álex Pina), who has given three consecutive nail-biting finales. It looks like there’s another season coming our way, but if Season 4 is any indication, it may be better to temper expectations this time around.