The Heist series “House of Money” is about an escalating hostage situation in a banknote printing plant and is presented as entertaining entertainment. It’s good that the Hollywood-style staging distracts from some weaknesses.
A conclusion after the first two seasons.
The plot: This is what “House of Money” is all about
A young man with the alias “Professor” (Álvaro Morte) hires a ragged group of criminals to shoot the greatest coup in human history: a robbery on a central bank printing plant. But no money should be stolen. Instead, the morally conscious professor plans to print his own euros in the “House of Money”. However, a protracted hostage situation is necessary for this.
The professor is careful: the group members only know each other by their aliases. Each one bears the name of a big city. The story is told from the perspective of “Tokyo” (Úrsula Corberó), a spirited bank robber who has a secret affair with the young hacker “Rio” (Miguel Herrán). The professor has strictly forbidden love stories. Rightly, as it later turns out, since the ingenious plan of Tokyo’s heart for Rio threatens to fail.
While the hostage-takers are entrenched in the banknote printing plant, the professor coordinates the crime from a safe hiding place and at the same time hooks up with the police inspector in charge, Raquel (Itziar Ituño). Ingenious move or fatal mistake?
Two seasons – 22 episodes of hostage drama
The Spanish TV series has so far been presented in two parts for Netflix. The second part with the last nine episodes has been available since April 12th. 22 episodes are far too many for the thin plot. Instead of telling the hostage drama in half the time, the script is stretched and adulterated with greasy romances. This is of course the fault of the “Stockholm Syndrome”. Instead, one could also call the many love stories “Titanic Syndrome”, because the characters fall head over heels in love within a few days that the first marriage proposals between hostage and hostage taker are not long in coming. Naive storytelling or Spanish temperament?
Modern fairy tale with old-fashioned stylistic devices
In the first two seasons, “House of Money” mixes cheeky heist movie clichés with traditional legends. The criminal gang is presented with mugshots and voice-overs. Each subsequent episode begins with a ticking clock that adds up the previous hours of the hostage situation. Surprise: as old-fashioned as these clichés are, they are fun.
The euphoria is quickly clouded, however, because the voiceover from protagonist Tokyo just doesn’t stop. Everything that the script cannot show is simply explained off-screen – a cheap stylistic device that is still very popular because the viewer is given all the important information in advance.
The problem lies elsewhere, however: A hostage situation creates tension from the moment, from an uncertain situation that could explode at any time. The constant retelling of Tokyo cancels this tension.
El amor dominates – four romances at the same time!
Love may even play the biggest role in “House of Money”. Almost every plan fails due to the impulsive mood swings of the characters, both on the part of the hostage takers and the police.
The hostage (melo) drama juggles four romances at the same time. The almost fairytale love story between the “Professor” and the “Inspectora” has the effect of the lack of chemistry like the unpleasant petting of two teenagers who confess their feelings for each other in a shaky voice. Of course, the affair is highly dramatic: The inspectora doesn’t know that she is personally dating the chief hostage-taker. The game of hide and seek is reminiscent of the friendship between drug lord Walter White and DEA agent Hank Schrader from “Breaking Bad”. “House of Money” looks at one or the other phrase too much, which means that the series often looks constructed.
The real star of the series is …
The characters are as flat as cardboard stands. Meaningful monologues cannot hide this. Nevertheless, there is a performance that makes “House of Money” worth seeing. Chief hostage taker “Berlin” (Pedro Alonso), who is in charge of the banknote printing company, not only delivers the most charismatic performance of the series, but also its opaque character design gives the gangster group the necessary dynamism. The eloquent narcissist with a code of honor would have made a much better protagonist than the one-dimensional Tokyo. Berlin’s voiceover would certainly have been a lot more exciting.
Conclusion: “House of Money” is naive entertainment
It is understandable why the series is met with enthusiasm: the topic is exciting, the staging is casual and lively and the simple script never overwhelms. “House of Money” is made for relaxed “bingewatching”