The Big One -| Review Score – 3.5/5
The Crew -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Punch -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Escape From Valledupar -| Review Score – 3/5
Funny Money -| Review Score – 3/5
All The Money In The World -| Review Score – 3/5
In 1994, Colombia played host to the one of the most elaborate and surprising bank heists in history. With a little over 24 billion Colombian pesos stolen (the equivalent of 41 million dollars in 1994) and no fatalities, this truly was the Robbery Of The Century. That craziness continues to this day too, with the heist holding the record for being the largest robbery involving paper currency.
On the back of La Casa De Papel’s (Money Heist) success, it seems fitting then that Netflix would snap up the rights and commission a 6 episode mini-series about this moment in history. With big disclaimers at the end of every episode, it’s worth pointing out that this is a dramatic re-enactment of what happened and not a historically accurate account of the heist.
The story itself follows two predominant characters. Brash and ambitious Roberto Lozano (using the alias Chayo) is down on his luck and desperate for cash. With a repossession looming and his dysfunctional family on the verge of imploding, he seeks the help of an old pal for one last heist to solve all his problems.
That friend comes in the form of a man named Molina (using the alias Lawyer) whose none too happy with him following 2 years of radio silence. You see, two years prior these two were involved in another heist but Chayo got greedy. That greed consequently cost Lawyer his kidney and precious years of his life.
Eventually the duo come to an agreement and the first two episodes set the scene to follow. In typical heist fashion, we meet the team and the plan is laid out using schematics and your typical cutaway photos of the bank. This builds up to a dramatic and tense couple of episodes as the heist gets underway.
However, that’s only half the story. The remaining episodes then depict the cat and mouse game ensuing between authorities and our robbers on the run. This tonal shift means the first half feels much pacier and rhythmic compared to the second half. Some of this comes down to the contrived nature of sub-plots and dramatic spikes that feel unnecessary, especially given how quickly they’re resolved.
I won’t spoil anything here but the final 3 episodes feature numerous examples of characters stuck in seemingly impossible situations only to either bribe, fight or talk their way out of trouble. The result is something that gives the feel of these men being invincible and loses some of that early tension the show did so well to build up.
It’s a shame too because there’s some genuinely unnerving and tense moments throughout the heist that are pulled off beautifully. Cameras zoom in ever-so-slightly on empty hallways while the atmospheric score constantly props up the series with a constant feel of dizzying suspense.
The second half though starts to throw in some plot contrivances and unnecessary sub-plots to drum up more drama for our characters. This ultimately gives off the impression that this perhaps should have been a 4 episode mini-series instead.
These sub-plots are a particular problem because aside from Lawyer and Chayo, there’s very little depth and characterization given to the supporting players. For example, Estivan, Sardino and Dragon all have pretty interesting family set-ups but none of them are given the screen-time needed to really dive in and expand their characters.
This also has a knock on effect late on when the stakes are raised again. For some reason, The Great Heist kills off certain characters off-screen. It’s a little disappointing to be honest and one such incident late on had me wondering whether that particular character was really dead given the abrupt manner they disappeared.
With six episodes clocking in at around 40 minutes a piece, The Great Heist is an incredibly easy show to watch and a genuinely enjoyable series. It’s not perfect, and there are a lot of plot contrivances right the way through.
While this is unlikely to be as highly regarded as something like La Casa De Papel (the first 3 seasons at least), there’s enough here to recommend nonetheless. Not quite great but not quite mediocre, The Great Heist instead feels more like The Good Heist.
The Great Heist will release on Netflix worldwide on 14th August 2020