‘Crooks’ Is A Familiar Crime Drama, But The Leads Will Steal Your Attention

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: April 5, 2024
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Crooks Season 1 Review
Crooks (via Netflix)


Crooks is nothing you haven’t seen before, but it’s an enjoyable genre exercise with an intriguing odd couple dynamic between its leads.

It’s understandable if your eyes glaze over at the thought of yet another international crime drama on Netflix, and I’d be lying if I said that Crooks is something you haven’t seen before. The kicker, though, is that nobody really cares whether or not they’ve seen a thing before; they care about how well it’s repackaged and presented to them again. On that level, Crooks is pretty good.

Anyone playing Crime Drama Bingo – what, just me? – will have at least a line out of the gate. The reluctant criminal trying to settle down with his family who’s pulled back in against his will for One Last Job™? Check. The overly ambitious career criminals always out to find the next big score and the next scary mobster to rip off? Check again. The giant fist-fighting getaway driver with a surprisingly tender underside? Okay, he’s pretty new.

Here’s the idea. There’s a rare coin on display in a museum, and two different gangs want it, which is understandable since it’s worth a cool couple million Euros. At the start of the premiere, one gang gets it. But another gang plans to steal it and sell it off to a Russian buyer. Caught in the midst of this are people of varying moral character, and an audience trying to decide who to root for. It’s simple stuff.

But the characters are not that simple, and this is where Crooks excels. It’s really a double act. One half of the duo is Charly, a retired safecracker now settled down with his wife Samira and their son Jonas (who will, at some point, become hostages, because this is that kind of show.) The other is Joseph, the driver who beats up multiple men at once and keeps the company of prostitutes – though not in the way you’d imagine.

Crooks Season 1 Review

Crooks (via Netflix)

Charly is drawn back into Berlin’s underworld by an old associate named Stepan and is forced to take one last job cracking the safe in a nail salon. He’s offered 20% of a two million Euro take, but after a very unsubtle threat to his family he ends up settling for a guarantee that, after the job, he’ll be left alone for good. Joseph, meanwhile, is instructed to drive to Berlin and acquire the stolen coin so it can be sold. His gang is wracked with infighting since the don is on his deathbed and his brother is trying to take over.

Since Charly and Joseph are both strongarmed into participating, they’re our “heroes”, so to speak. They’re who we’re supposed to root for, and we do since they have a great and slightly unusual dynamic. In this genre, “slightly unusual” is the best you’re going to get, novelty-wise. Crooks burns all of Charly and Joseph’s chemistry for fuel across multiple European cities in a slew of chases and turns that are easy to predict but enjoyable to watch.

And quite funny, too, which surprised me. At a press junket in Germany, the late, great Robin Williams was once asked why he thought the Germans had a reputation for humourlessness, and he said, “Because you killed all the funny people.” As it turns out, he was wrong, albeit only just.

“Fun” is a pretty subjective word, but it’s a good one for Netflix’s Crooks nonetheless. I enjoyed it, and I think others will too. It’s playing the usual hits in a crowd-pleasing genre, and on that level, there’s little disagreeable about it, but it’s also got just enough going on under the surface with its leads that there’s something a little bit different about it. Worthy of a light recommendation, at the very least.

If you’re interested, you can also check out my in-depth breakdown of Crooks’ ending.

Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
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