It’s certainly cashing in on the Money Heist hype, but this new dramatic reimagining of a record-breaking robbery is a solid binge proposition for the weekend.
This review of The Great Heist (El Robo del Siglo) is spoiler-free.
A heist thriller is nothing new on Netflix, and neither is true-crime; The Great Heist mashes the two genres together this weekend for a breezy six-episode binge-watch that’s undeniably banking on its close proximity to Money Heist for eager eyeballs. But this dramatic reimagining of the largest robbery of paper currency in history – an eye-watering 24 billion Colombian pesos, or 41 million U.S. dollars – is a step down from Netflix’s international hit, even if it plays many of the same notes.
Resting mostly on the shoulders of Robert Lozano, or Chayo, a down-and-out grifter with various money problems threatening to tear apart his family and possibly, given the sum he owes to local kingpin Mrs. K, his limbs, The Great Heist is a classic genre tale of a conman enlisting an old buddy to pull off one last big score that’ll set them straight. In this case, that old pal is Molina, or The Lawyer, one of Chayo’s old associates who was shot twice thanks largely to Chayo and is now on dialysis, unable to afford necessary organ transplants. The job is emptying a great deal of wealth from the Bank of the Republic in Valledupar.
At just six episodes, The Great Heist is essentially a tale of two halves, and thanks to that limited episode order the first half is a breezy compilation of the heist genre’s greatest hits, from getting the team together to casing the joint, planning the job, and so on, and so forth. The show’s good with quickly building and then puncturing dramatic tension with a neat rhythm that keeps the 40-ish-minute installments feeling pacey. In the back half, that pace starts to feel a bit like contrivance, with the resolutions to certain high-stakes scenarios coming a bit too quickly and easily.
If I’m honest, though, this is a problem I can live with. It’s always better to have too little of something than too much, and The Great Heist is designed to be taken in at speed, buying into the tension-building conceits and not thinking too much about the underlying logic of the endeavor. It’s obvious that a fair amount of artistic license has been taken and this is reaffirmed by frequent disclaimers, but that’s fine too; this isn’t a documentary, and it doesn’t try to be one, instead leaning into the in-the-moment pleasures of a good set-piece.
This, then, leaves most of the supporting cast feeling somewhat neglected, but any attempts the show makes to build up character subplots feel slightly fatty anyway, so it’s a catch-22. The weird feeling one gets is that The Great Heist is somehow a couple of episodes too long and a couple too short all at once; it evidently wants to provide more space for its personalities to develop, but it also wants to keep the pedal to the metal, and it takes the whole season to realize that it can’t have its cake and eat it. While these hiccups might keep the show from enticing the kind of audience that Money Heist did, it’ll undoubtedly provide one quick, dirty job for genre fans who want something new to break into this weekend.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.