The new Netflix heist thriller Baby Bandito makes it clear from the get-go that it is inspired by real events, and the show has been modified as per convenience. The series takes its inspiration from the 2014 airport robbery in Chile, but the characters and the story are entirely fictionalized. With the Money Heist franchise dominating the heist genre, Baby Bandito offers a fresh take on the subject. In this Chilean eight-episode series, we do not have a team of experts; instead, we have a group of amateurs. The series is not about how brilliantly these criminal masterminds execute the heist of the century; the focus is rather on the failure and the various factors that contribute to it.
Baby Bandito establishes how socioeconomic factors result in the making of a criminal. The protagonist, Kevin Tapia, did not plan on becoming a robber, but he ended up on the wrong side of the law as a result of his surrounding conditions. His father was in prison, and his mother was in financial debt. As the only son, Kevin quickly realized that he needed to support his family financially. He was young and not qualified enough to land a decent-paying job. He had grown up in hoods where dealing drugs was commonplace and making money through illegal means was often the only option. Love was also a major factor in Kevin’s decision to carry out a heist. Kevin had fallen in love with Genesis, a privileged young girl who caught his attention at the skatepark. After attending her birthday party, Kevin realized that he needed to make money to live up to her standards. In Baby Bandito, love is studied through an economic lens, and Kevin’s decision to risk everything to earn billions has a lot to do with impressing Genesis and proving her family wrong. It was not just the inexperience that worked against Kevin and his gang but also the fact that most of the members were too young to know any better.
The series also goes on to show the need for validation among the young generation and how far they are willing to go to show off their extravagant lifestyle to the world. It was their compulsive need to upload pictures wearing luxury brands that ultimately backfired. The series primarily talks about the desire to make it big and live the life that one sees through the screen. With his family struggling financially, his girlfriend wanting the finer things in life, and his dream of living a life of abundance, Kevin decides to execute the heist. Given the situation Kevin was in, even if he had not planned the heist, the chances of him ending up committing petty crimes to make ends meet were quite high.
The series is interesting to begin with, especially with the focus being on the aftermath rather than the heist. But with a rival gang in the picture, the series gradually starts to lose out on logic. The need to make it a grand affair resulted in Baby Bandito being just about an average watch. It all started to seem a little too easy all of a sudden. The fact that the gang managed to pull off a heist in the digital world without having any tech members in the crew did not make sense. We are told that the rival gang is ruthless and influential, yet they fail to locate a bunch of amateurs on the run. The competition was unrealistic, and the fact that the amateur gang managed to escape every time they were in trouble was once again logically flawed. The police, too, seemed efficient when it came to the rival gang, but with Kevin and his crew, they always seemed unequipped. With every episode, Baby Bandito loses touch with reality, and it simply starts chasing the finishing line.
Most of the characters are defined and provoke interest, but their full potential is not explored. Panda’s transformation was impressive, but I only wish we could have spent more time with his evolved self. The character was not given enough time to explain where he was coming from and how his entire perception changed in the end. Lucas Vergara successfully embodies Panda’s innocence as well as his vengeful desires. Kevin, too, goes through significant change—from being an irresponsible young adult to realizing the repercussions of his actions. Nicolas Contreras’ innocent face and mischievous smile fit in perfectly with the character Kevin. Contreras captures the complexity of the character quite skillfully. Francisca Armstrong delivers an adequate performance as the whimsical Genesis. Even though the character is flawed, you will end up sympathizing with her. Their love affair takes center stage, and it impacts the way the story unfolds. I particularly enjoyed watching the bad guys on the show, especially Russian and Greyhound. Their sizzling chemistry and its impact on the storyline were an interesting addition. Even though the villains are as evil as they can get, they are not one-dimensional because their anger stems from a sense of loss.
The action sequences in Baby Bandito are executed well, and the overall production value of the show is also worth mentioning. There are a number of gory, gruesome scenes in the course of the series, and they are realistically portrayed. The ending could have been more impactful, but then again, as a heist thriller from Chile, it manages to leave a mark.
Baby Bandito thematically arrives at the idea that money does not necessarily bring happiness. Kevin was born and raised in the hood, and as he grew up, he realized how important it was to make money. Most of his life’s problems had to do with the scarcity of wealth, and he believed that if he made billions of pesos risking his life, it would be well worth it. In the eight episodes, we watch Kevin evolve from a stubborn young man into a more grounded individual who learns to prioritize relationships over wealth. Baby Bandito is an entertaining heist thriller that you can add to your casual watch list.