La Casa de Papel returns, this time to Korea. Netflix has just unveiled the remake of one of its most popular series. So we buy? Critical.
In 2017, Money Heist lands on Netflix with the firm intention of seducing users around the world. The Spanish series, first produced and broadcast by the Antena 3 channel, met with immediate success with the public and critics, who praised its nervous narration and its originality of subject.
The platform therefore does not hesitate to order a third season, only for its own account this time. It’s still Alex Pina who is in charge, and the same band of robbers in front of the camera. However, she struggles to give herself a second wind, playing with the same process and the same recipe. That won’t stop it from getting two more seasons until its conclusion last December.
Six months later, the universe is (already) back on our screens. If a spin-off centered on the character of Berlin is on the program, it is first with a remake that the platform expands the mythology of Money Heist. Netflix’s golden egg hen has not been idle, and she has put all the chances on her side to collect many greenbacks.
After the undisputed success of Squid Gameor more recently All of Us Are Dead, Netflix takes the best of both worlds to create a new kind of hybrid, a heap of ingredients that have made other productions popular. But by dint of wanting the butter, the money for the butter and the behind of the banker, didn’t the platform get lost along the way?
The story immerses us in an imaginary future, where the two Koreas have acted a reunification. Shortly after this historic event, a summit was organized near the Maison de la Monnaie. It is this moment that is chosen by the Professor and his team to invest the place and realize what promises to be the coup of the century.
Two sides of the same coin
Netflix applies the definition of remake to the letter. The new series takes up the plot of the parent series with a few details, there is little chance of being surprised with this new vintage. Under the leadership of the Professor camped by Yoo Ji-Tae, the same plan is unfolded. An effective game of cat and mouse, but which loses its effectiveness for those who have already seen Money Heist.
We find practically all the ingredients, the flashbacks, the ceremony of choosing nicknames, the changeover for our heroes, and even the love affairs between the protagonists. An impression of repetition which is accentuated as the narration progresses. How to be moved for characters who we know will survive at least until the end of season 1.
Money Heist: Korea thus takes up everything that was the strength of the original series, also adding its weaknesses along the way. The strings are big, yet the well-oiled machine is struggling when it comes to reinventing itself. Pure moments of tension are nevertheless on the program, not everything is to be thrown away.
The novel aspect of the series lies in its political context, the reunification of two nations and the economic fallout from it. A very apt backdrop, but one that never quite manages to extend beyond the mere mention. The social criticism of Money Heist: Korea thus falls flat, and that is a pity.
She would have done just as well to keep only the first fruits of Money Heist, to flourish by making very rare reference to it and by building new, more solid foundations. Here, it’s a bit of a story of rough copying, pasting, a proofreading that also probably happens far too soon. After all, the series only bowed out six months ago. We’re willing to admit that a lot has been released since on Netflix, but unless you have a goldfish memory…
Money Heist did not shine by the complexity and density of its protagonists. Archetypes which had nevertheless known how to make themselves endearing as the episodes paraded. Money Heist repeats feature for feature of the protagonists, to the point of giving them the same names and characteristics. We thus find the little genius Rio, the silent Tokyo (who still acts as narrator), Denver the simpleton and also and especially Berlin.
He is this time embodied by a certain Park Hae-Soo, who is not unknown to the spectators of Squid Game. It was indeed he who lent his features to Cho Sang-Woo, a long-time friend of the main character. Here, he turns into a temperamental and uncontrollable tyrant, there again little change to note.
Same story for El Professor, the actor reproduces to perfection each element of the character formerly camped by Alvaro Morte, to the tic with his glasses. Some changes are nevertheless to be noted on the side of his career, which we will keep quiet to preserve the little suspense that remains.
Do we still really need remakes?
The arrival of Netflix in the audiovisual panorama has redistributed the cards in the television creation sector. While the channels relied on local productions, intended for a reduced audience, Netflix is investing massively in series produced around the world and visible everywhere. Where remakes were commonplace for the small skylight, the arrival of Netflix raises the question of their necessity.
A remake being the occasion to make discover a production to spectators having never discovered it, as it could be the case with The Office US in response to The Office UK or more recently flea bag and Fly in France, what happens when your audience has already got their hands on the series you want to revisit?
Proof that these questions are of interest to professionals in the sector, this was the subject of a conference held last March during Series Mania in Lille. The various guests thus insisted on the importance of positioning a work in a different context, while allowing it to reach a new audience. For Netflix, it’s a little different since viewers are more and more inclined to discover a foreign series in its original version, and the dubbing is always available. Proof if one were needed that the English-language catalog of the platform is far from being its only asset, Squid Game established itself as the most popular series in its history.
So to the question Money Heist did it deserve a remake? We would be tempted to answer no. But the series seems less intended for a European and North American audience than for a Korean audience that has not yet had the opportunity to discover the Spanish series. We are not the core target.