Thrills in ‘Money Heist, But ‘Berlin’ 

Berlin review

“Contrary to the thrilling experience of ‘Money Heist,’ its prequel, ‘Money Heist: Berlin,’ falls flat.

Warning: Mild spoilers ahead.

Penning down this review brings me no joy. As an avid fan of Álex Pina and Esther Martínez Lobato’s globally successful ‘Money Heist,’ I had high hopes for the long-anticipated prequel. However, ‘Money Heist: Berlin’ disappoints with its lackluster narrative and absence of stakes.

The eight-episode series, which delves into the period just before Berlin (Pedro Alonso), the original show’s enigmatic and morally ambiguous character, joins the gang, fails to deliver on multiple fronts. The pacing feels off, the heist lacks intrigue, and the characters come across as one-dimensional. Instead of being a spinoff, it feels more like a mere imitation, unable to conjure the suspense despite the creators’ impressive track record.

Berlin, a complex and popular character from the original series, posed a challenge for the franchise to anchor a show around. The prequel could have explored Berlin’s solo heists, delved into his relationship with his son, Rafael, or shed light on his transformation into the charismatic yet disturbing figure we know. Regrettably, ‘Berlin’ opts for a lighter, occasionally comedic tone, merely recycling the ‘Money Heist’ formula.

The show follows Berlin’s quest to steal jewels from France’s largest auction house, assembling a team reminiscent of the original series. The characters feel almost painfully similar, lacking the depth and nuance that made the original cast memorable. While there are some fresh additions, such as the timid hacker Keila (Michelle Jenner), the overall sense is that of a missed opportunity.

Unlike the original series, which cleverly used symbolism like the red jumpsuits and Dalí masks to make a political statement, ‘Berlin’ lacks such depth. The central romantic plotline between Berlin and Camille fails to resonate emotionally, given Berlin’s sociopathic pursuit. The heist itself lacks the charm of the original, with Berlin’s leadership proving more disruptive than inspiring. Pedro Alonso’s charisma can only do so much to salvage the uninteresting dynamics.

The series further suffers from a disjointed ensemble, as the team spends much of the time apart, hindering the development of camaraderie. The budding romances, though forced, progress at a sluggish pace, failing to generate the suspense intended.

In summary, ‘Money Heist: Berlin’ struggles to capture the essence of its predecessor. It lacks the moral clarity and creativity that made the original series a success, resulting in a heist that feels both uninspiring and unengaging.”