The Heist of the Century Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Colombia, Bogotá, 1992. Robber Roberto Lozano, nicknamed Chaio (Andrés Parra), along with his old accomplice Jaime Molina, nicknamed Lawyer (Christian Tappan), and several henchmen, rob a museum in which jewels are exhibited. The bear cub, nicknamed El Dragon (Waldo Urrego), managed to open the lock protecting one of the main values ​​​​of the museum, but the gang lost precious time and ran into a guard.

The lawyer tried to solve the problem, but one of the gang members started shooting, the guard started shooting back and seriously wounded the lawyer. Chayo had no choice but to leave the Lawyer in the museum and run away with the loot.

Two years have passed. Chayo runs a small jewelry shop, but his business is going from bad to worse: he owes rent and has nothing to pay off his landlord and suppliers. A scam to rob his own shop during a visit from a jewelry supplier, to which he sent his henchman Vicente Morales, nicknamed El Sardino (Juan Sebastian Calero), failed, so Chayo is now desperately looking for some business that will allow him to make money fast.

An old acquaintance of Chayo, William Gonzalez, nicknamed Boris, gives a tip: in the central “Bank of the Republic”, in the city of Valledupar, there are people among the guards. They know when a huge amount will be in the bank, and they are ready to contribute to the robbery – of course, for the appropriate money, and they need to pay quite a lot for primary information.

For money, Chayo turns to Jackie Ateortua, nicknamed Doña K (Marcel Benhumea). Chayo already owes Dona K a fortune, but he can be very persuasive, as a result of which Dona K enters the share.

After that, Chayo recruits a gang that will participate in the robbery. In addition to El Sardino, he attracted the bear cub El Dragon and several other people there, but most importantly, he managed to persuade the Lawyer to take part in the case. Chayo’s lawyer is terribly angry, besides, the security guard’s bullet hit Molina in the kidney, and now he has to go to dialysis every day, but Chayo explains to the Lawyer that he can only get a chance for a kidney transplant if he earns a lot of money, and in the bank they are waiting for such a jackpot that is enough for everyone. Then the lawyer agrees to take part in the case.

***

A new Colombian mini-series (there are only six episodes, the story is over), based on real events: indeed, a certain group of people managed to rob the “Bank of the Republic” in Valledupar on October 16-17, 1994 and they took out 24 billion pesos (33 million dollars) from there , which at that time was an absolutely insane amount).

The robbers weren’t too lucky in that the money they seized was never in circulation, so it was easy to trace, but they made a lot of efforts to somehow solve this problem. The government and the police opposed them in this, but the story made a rustle throughout Colombia and caused certain social and economic upheavals, so the situation there was very interesting and ambiguous.

The journalist Alfredo Serrano wrote a book about this story, “So I robbed a bank” (Así robé el banco), in 2007, a TV movie “The Greatest Robbery” (El gran robo) was released in Colombia, traces of which I did not find in movie bases.

Well, now in 2020, Pablo Gonzalez and Camilo Salazar Prince released a mini-series according to their script.

I must say right away – this is not a “Paper House” even nearby. Not so exciting and action-packed, there are no such bright and diverse characters. However, in my opinion, “The Robbery of the Century” still deserves viewing, I watched it with pleasure.

Why? For two reasons. The first is that something like this really happened, and in the series, many things with a real robbery clearly coincide. However, the creators of the series at the end of each episode post a disclaimer, which says that the series is based on real events, but it does not claim to be reliable and cannot be used to determine legal liability. And, they say, whoever wants to know the whole truth about this story is all set out in various court records.

The second reason is that it is very well staged and played. Yes, of course, the creators of the series almost completely omitted the three-month preparation, which in reality was actively carried out before this robbery. (Moreover, the development of the plan began eight months before the operation.) Here, in the name of the dynamics of the narrative, the preparation was cut down to literally a few days: we met with the guard, he said to name the date, time of entry and exit time, well, go ahead. The main jackpot will be in the safe only until Monday – well, that means we’ll go on Sunday.

Well, as a result, of course, the robbery itself, as such, looks somewhat messy – in the sense that very often everything hung in the balance there. In the “Paper House” the preparation process, which went on for six months, was also shown with a very large grinding, but there the robbery itself was thought out in every detail. Here, in general, all the characters more or less knew their roles, but there was nothing really under control, as a result, at any moment everything could go wrong.

But, however, when I read all sorts of details about this operation (Spanish), I found out that a lot of what was shown in the series actually took place there. I won’t spoil it to make the series interesting to watch, but I’ll only say that an interesting effect just works here: a robbery that was entirely invented for a film or series looks very realistic, but just taken from life looks like a violent fantasy of a screenwriter, and I have already come across similar effect.

The third reason is that here, in general, there are also interesting characters and well-played roles. The main character Chayo is played by Andres Parra – I remember him from the role of a polished and mean lawyer in “Heroic Losers”. Here Chayo did not say that he was impressed – tea, not chic Berlin from “Paper House”, – however, Parra coped with the role with dignity: it is clear that Chayo has a good gift for persuasion and knows how to manipulate people, well, it is clear that he went on this robbery from despair – he just has nothing to lose.

I liked the Lawyer performed by Christian Tappan much more. Here the charisma is much brighter, and the character is more interesting. The lawyer did not go to the bank: in fact, Chayo lured him with the fact that Molina would sit in a hotel opposite the bank, look through binoculars and coordinate the situation on the phone, but the lawyer is in charge of the whole plan and security, and he had a lot of worries.

And he has a touching relationship with his wife Romy (Katerina Velez): they are very close, Romy knows perfectly well what Molina does, and she took part in the preparations for the operation; in conversation, the spouses call each other socio – partner, companion.

Dona K performed by Marcela Benhumea is very colorful. At first I thought it would be something like Amara De Escalones from Get Shorty, but no – Doña K just runs her own business, she has business relations with a large criminal structure, but she herself is not a mafia. Chayo just managed to convince her, and she also decided to quickly cut the dough.

Well, the last character I would like to talk about is El Sardino, played by Juan Sebastian Calero. The character seems to be not too significant – Chayo’s assistant, whom he always spoofs, but El Sardino and Chayo have a rather complicated relationship. This was somehow not reflected in the United Statesn voice acting, however, El Sardino Chaio constantly calls Papá, that is, “father”, “dad” (and not “dad” at all, as they translated in the voice acting), and he calls him son. And there it is clear that he is not just working for Chayo, but they are somehow seriously connected. An explanation for this will be given at the very end of the series, but I just want to say that this character, for all his seemingly insignificance, is very interesting and noticeable.

With the finale, the creators of the series did not become wiser, they showed everything approximately the way it really was. I expected that they would include all sorts of real footage in the story – after all, this happened quite recently – yes, there were real footage, but only from the episode of the confrontation between the government and the police against the kidnappers after the robbery.

They did not show the footage of those involved in this whole story, and the names of all the participants have been greatly changed – except for the name of the bank director.

In reality, about a hundred people were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the robbery. Twenty-six people participated in the attack itself, including members of the national police. I read that two people were unfairly accused of being involved in a robbery and they managed to prove their innocence, after which they sued the state for decent sums. One of them spent almost three years in prison, the other was under house arrest for some time.

I also note that in reality, from the windows of the hotel, the police involved in the case, and not the Lawyer, followed the development of the robbery, and it seems that it was the police themselves who were both the brains of the operation and the main driving force.

It’s a good series, well worth watching in my opinion.

Now I will answer the question of where to get it. This is a Netflix series, so take it to Netflix – it is there in Spanish with United Statesn subtitles, I checked it from my United Statesn account on Netflix (I pay for it specially for such checks). The subtitles there are of high quality – by the way, much better than in the version that roams the torrents. I also listened to the United Statesn voiceover, with which it is distributed in torrents – well, it seems decent, you can watch it.


This series is on Netflix with English subtitles

PS It was very interesting to watch it in Spanish. In Spanish, which is in Spain, there is a common appeal to “you”, there is also a rather rarely used appeal to “you” (and here the conjugation of verbs is for the third person – that is, for example, “do you want?” sounds like “he wants ?”), and there is also a polite term for the plural “you” (and this is also the third plural, which sounds like “they want?”). In Colombia, judging by the series, the appeal to “you” is actually absent, there everyone is with each other on “you” (Usted), including close friends and close relatives, well, or we can assume that they are all with each other on “you” – just like in English, where you – and that’s it. Well, it was funny to find out how coffee is called in Colombia: not a café, as in Spain, but tinta, that is, ink.

El Robo del Siglo / The Heist of the Century movie review

Director: Pablo Gonzalez, Camilo Salazar Prince Cast: Andres Parra, Christian Tappan, Waldo Urrego, Marcela Benhumea, Edgar Vittorino, Paula Castaño, Matias Maldonado, Carlos Marinho, Juan Sebastian Calero, Rodrigo Jerez, Caterina Velez

Series, Columbia, 2020, 48 min. 1 season, 6 episodes

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