Snow in Soller
The Snipe and the Clam
The Purple Witch -| Review Score – 4/5
There have been a litany of revenge thrillers over the years, especially those told from a female perspective. From Kill Bill and Hard Candy through to Carrie and Killing Eve, this genre has been mined to death. This automatically puts Netflix’s new German thriller, Kleo, on the backfoot. Somehow though, this show manages to both feel refreshingly new and overly familiar at the same time, taking a simple but effective formula and spinning that into a bloody, twisty-turny thriller.
Set in Germany, right across 1989 and 1990 (during the time of the Berlin Wall falling), Kleo actually doesn’t start off as an outright revenge thriller. Instead, the show emanates an espionage vibe as we follow Stasi assassin Kleo Straub. Hired off the books, Kleo is a proficient agent, working on behalf of her grandfather to take out various targets.
After killing a man in a West German nightclub, police – and in particular an officer called Sven – start to piece together who this woman is. When she’s subsequently arrested while heavily pregnant, with her grandfather and everyone she works with testifying against her, Kleo takes the fall and end up behind bars with a life sentence. That’s not good, and the heartbreaking betrayal continues when Kleo loses her baby too.
Consumed by anger and vengeance, Kleo bides her time. When the Berlin Wall falls and all political prisoners are free to go, Kleo sets out on a bloody revenge mission to gain some sweet payback from those responsible for putting her in prison.
The first half of this season follows a pretty conventional format, with Kleo working to take out different targets while learning about a mysterious red suitcase. This becomes a key McGuffin moving forward, holding a secret that could change the destiny of Germany completely.
Interestingly though, the second half of this season switches things up, with an unlikely alliance working surprisingly well to shake up the tone and pace of this series.
There are some definite similarities to Killing Eve here, in both the dark comedy and the visuals. Kleo is an aesthetically stylish and impressive venture, with a consistent motif of yellows, blues and reds used throughout. Once you notice this, it’s hard to ignore it with the creative team working really well to weave this into the story in a natural way.
Episode 6 in particular is beautifully hedonistic, with the first half serving as a big flashback to flesh out more of Kleo’s past and childhood – not to mention her ties with the red suitcase.
For all the positives (and there are a fair few with this one), there are a few points that hold this back from being a better venture. Kleo heads off on several “missions” beyond the borders of Germany but these single-episode adventures feel a bit rushed. These could easily have been fleshed out further, and ironically this is actually one of those shows that could have greatly benefited from more episodes.
For a show with a lot of bloodshed and violence, Kleo is also surprisingly funny. There’s a real desire to try and add some light bites of levity to the plot, and for the most part Kleo achieves that. Of course, there are a couple of jokes that don’t land, but if you liked the humour Killing Eve and Quentin Tarantino play with, then you’ll be right at home with this one.
Kleo is definitely one of the dark horse contenders this year for great shows. Despite a slightly rushed screenplay and a need for more episodes, Kleo is a solid, well-written revenge thriller. The visuals are fantastic, the humour is well placed and the story has enough twists and turns to keep you watching until the end. This one’s a must-watch folks!
Verdict - 8/10