September 25, 2022

You’ve rewatched The Wire, seen each episode of Associates a minimum of twice and are beginning to marvel if that is what it feels prefer to “full” Netflix. However wait: there’s a world-changing, cultural juggernaut of a TV present that – whereas vastly in style – you might nicely have missed.

This week, Cash Heist – or, to make use of its Spanish title, La Casa de Papel – begins one other eight-episode run on Netflix, the place it’s the streaming big’s most-watched non-English language present worldwide. The primary season of the full-throttle thriller noticed its gang – all code-named after main cities and memorably clad in revolutionary-red overalls and Salvador Dalí masks – break into the Royal Mint of Spain, taking 67 individuals hostage and actually printing cash: 2.4bn euros, to be precise. It’s truthful to say that the plot doesn’t fairly go to plan, although it does lead to three raunchy romances and an island escape. Season three, a fair wilder experience, proved that for this gang loyalty is as a lot a motivation as loot.

The present’s Madrid-based creator, Álex Pina, believes the newest season has the ability to “infuse some oxygen into this disturbing local weather … it’s a brutal journey to the restrict, like a experience on a vertiginous rollercoaster. I can promise the viewers is not going to consider Covid-19 whereas watching it.” His earlier present, the ladies’s jail drama Locked Up is, together with teen thriller Elite and the Nineteen Forties-set thriller Excessive Seas, a part of a wave of Spanish dramas which have commanded giant worldwide audiences in recent times, all partially due to Netflix.

Give her the gun ... Úrsula Corberó as Money Heist’s Tokyo.
Give her the gun … Úrsula Corberó as Cash Heist’s Tokyo. {Photograph}: Netflix

But Cash Heist is on a special scale. Inside months of arriving on the streaming service in 2017, the thriller had turn into the one most-watched collection in nations together with France, Italy, Argentina and Brazil, and its third collection – launched final yr – was watched by 34 million households in its first week alone. Its impression has been big: superfans ship Pina images of tattoos of Tokyo and the Professor, and the gang’s masks and overalls now rival The Handmaid’s Story bonnet for probably the most recognisable TV costume of latest years. They had been even worn on political protests in Puerto Rico and through a real-life theft within the French metropolis of Nantes. In Argentina, the place the present is especially beloved, infants have been named after its protagonists.

The explanations for Cash Heist’s enchantment are apparent but in addition surprisingly ineffable, not least in episodes such because the season three opener, the place characters switched between emotional extremes and glamorous areas with equally delirious pace. “It’s pure rock’n’roll,” says Álvaro Morte, who performs the gang’s meticulous mastermind, the Professor. “When you see the primary chapter of the present, you might be misplaced in it.”

“It has one thing totally different, particularly for non-Spanish individuals,” says his co-star Úrsula Corberó. She stars as Tokyo, the gang member whose irrepressible want to drink rum and dance the salsa with strangers units a surprising collection of occasions in movement. “We’ve got this manner of expressing ourselves, of exchanging our emotions that goes by means of the display.” Pina agrees that cultural specificity is likely one of the present’s principal promoting factors: “In Cash Heist, emotions, fraternity and love are as essential because the plots. An ideal heist, rational and funky, turns into one thing else when spiced up with Latin feelings.” The tragic dynamic between the Professor and his love interest-cum-arresting officer Raquel (Itziar Ituño) is a compelling instance of this distinction in motion.

If there’s such a factor as a quintessentially Spanish heist drama, then, that is it. It’s not grittily downbeat like its British equivalents or pared-back like Scandi crime reveals. Quite, says Pina, Cash Heist is rooted in Spanish literature’s nice foundational textual content: “To stand up towards the system is reckless and idealistic – [it’s] Don Quixote! But I believe it’s far more Latin than Spanish; extra passionate. In that, it differs from the English ‘good heist’ style, which is cooler, extra restrained, extra scientific.”

Restraint has hardly been mandatory for Pina and his writing crew, since Netflix as soon as once more upped the present’s funds for the brand new season, enabling an thrilling vary of high-octane stunts and ever-more lavish manufacturing values (in July, Selection estimated the earlier season to be Spain’s biggest-budgeted series-per-episode ever).

In line with Corberó, Cash Heist’s passionate characters might be unpredictable even for his or her co-creators: “If, by this time, we didn’t know our characters nicely, it could be unforgivable,” she says. “However the scriptwriters nonetheless have the flexibility to shock us.” Certainly, on the finish of season three, the Professor skilled a trauma that – it’s strongly hinted within the trailer for season 4 – will lead the normally rational character to behave extra erratically. “I believe characters ought to at all times develop and evolve. In the event that they don’t, they’re flat,” says Morte. “I was the form of actor that will learn a script and I’d assume: ‘Oh my God! My character would by no means say that!’ Now I’ve modified my mindset. All of the characters, particularly the Professor, nonetheless have many issues to point out.” Fan websites are awash with hypothesis on what precisely that might be. Will he search bloody revenge on the police? Or descend into insanity?

There’s additionally a political edge to the collection’ “anti-system” philosophy, which is invoked every time we hear the gang’s borrowed anthem, the Italian protest tune Bella Ciao. “At the start, the collection is supposed to entertain, however an thought runs beneath,” explains Pina. “Scepticism in direction of governments, central banks, the system … This notion wouldn’t sink in until it had been formulated inside an entertaining narrative. The motion style was once thought of shallow and superficial, and social films as boring. Why not put these two ideas collectively?”

A demonstrator wears the red jumpsuit and Dali mask from the show during an anti-government protest in France.
A demonstrator wears the purple jumpsuit and Dali masks from the present throughout an anti-government protest in France. {Photograph}: Gérard Julien/AFP through Getty Pictures

As a result of the 2008 monetary crash, which set the scene for Cash Heist, was a world occasion, it’s unsurprising that this escapist fable has resonated broadly. For Morte, although, the present’s impression hit residence for him whereas he was watching the information one night: “On the Mediterranean, an immigrants’ boat was attempting to achieve the Spanish coast. Once they had been rescued, they began singing Bella Ciao. It’s one thing that may stick with me for ever.”

Regardless of worldwide acclaim, on the finish of 2019, the UK was one of many few territories the place the present didn’t characteristic in Netflix’s High 10. Latecomers could be nicely suggested to catch up quick, although. Whereas Pina gained’t set an finish date, it’s clear Cash Heist is right here for time, not a very long time. “We’re right here to inform no matter we have to inform within the shortest means,” he says. “We’re right here to shoot weapons at shut vary, to empty magazines tirelessly … we’d slightly the viewers switched off the TV with racing hearts than out of boredom.”

Cash Heist: Half 4 is on Netflix from Friday 3 April

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