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“Kaleidoscope” Review

Jan 19, 2023

“Kaleidoscope” Review

“Kaleidoscope” is a new crime drama created by Netflix. What sets it apart from others is the viewers’ freedom to watch each episode in whatever order they want. 

“Kaleidoscope’s” episodes are each distinguished by a color rather than put in chronological order. The only rule of the series is that the “White” episode, set on the day of the heist, needs to be viewed last. 

The concept of “Kaleidoscope” was supposedly inspired by true events; a heist that occurred in downtown Manhattan during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, where seventy billion dollars in bonds were stolen. 

For reference, I watched the show in the following order: Yellow, Violet, Green, Blue, Orange, Red, Pink, White. 

I absolutely love heist movies, so right away this show clicked with me.

I like the trope in this type of film where a nearly insurmountable problem is presented, with the clever solution only presented at the last minute, forcing the viewer to contemplate the mastermind’s scheme up until the reveal. “Kaleidoscope” executed this trope successfully. 

I really liked the disorder of information throughout the show. I liked having to piece together facts in order to figure out the plot. Going back in time to Ray Vernon’s (played by Giancarlo Esposito) early criminal life gave an important glimpse into the main conflicts of the show. 

I loved that the heist wasn’t purely fueled by greed, but also revenge. That intricacy made everything far more entertaining. 

I thought some of the acting/dialogue in this was slightly corny, a phenomenon very typical in Netflix originals. 

Niousha Noor, who played Nazan Abassi, an FBI agent investigating the robbery, had a monologue that really didn’t work for me. The ideas she presented seemed forced, like the writers wanted something nuanced and political in the script.

Her experience as a Muslim FBI agent needed more explanation and depth than a single monologue sprung upon the viewers randomly. Abassi was underdeveloped, and only became a main character (if we look chronologically at the story) in the “Orange” episode. She seems like an afterthought, which is disappointing considering the potential depth of her character had the writers put in more effort. 

Even more random was the tiny love story Abassi and her partner Samuel Toby (played by Bubba Weiler) shared for about one episode. They kissed once and then that was kind of it. 

Esposito was terrific in this. Despite some awkward dialogue, he managed to paint the picture of a father, thief, and man on his deathbed with amazing precision. I could feel his grief, anger, and love intensely throughout the series.

Most of the other performances were good too. Rosaline Elbay as Judy Goodwin was definitely a standout. 

I despised Bob Goodwin, (played by Jai Courtney) a character who’s only trait is being the worst all the time. I know he was intentionally written to be annoying, but I’m so sick of that character in heist movies– the one who has unchecked anger issues and absolutely no morals, and ruins the job for everybody by being unhinged and destructive. It’s so predictable. 

Now I’ll be giving away some spoilers. 

The fact that Stan Loomis (played by Peter Mark Kendall) and Judy didn’t end up together, is too dumb to properly iterate. 

Their relationship was built up and hinted at throughout the entire show, as if they are bound by fate to be together. Then, Judy finds a bag of money after the heist went awry and just… dips. She could’ve easily shared the money with Stan, but no, she just leaves him to probably die. 

I know Judy is a criminal, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have empathy. In fact, her kindness was a primary theme throughout the earlier episodes, specifically when she cares for RJ after Bob’s abuse.

The next thing that frustrated me was the ending. The fact that nobody gets the money, like not even Hannah Kim, (played by Tati Gabrielle) the daughter of Ray and inside man of the operation, is so stupid. Hannah is supposed to be a new single mom, and extra money wouldn’t hurt.

Hannah steals the bonds and returns them to their original owner in order to protect her father from a life of crime, when he literally is already deeply involved with that world. This man literally went to jail, escaped, faked his death, and changed his name. 

Even if she wanted to protect her father, she managed to completely screw over the five other people who put their lives on the line for this money. They had to go on the run anyway, so a couple billion dollars probably wouldn’t have hurt! Instead, every single member of the heist either dies or is left in a horrible position. 

I think the writers wanted the viewers to rejoice that the money wasn’t put in the hands of criminals, but they’re literally the protagonists of the series. Maybe they wanted an unhappy ending to prove the chaotic destruction of crime, but that isn’t fun! A heist show should be fun!

Instead we got a corny Tarantino knockoff. 

Despite the godawful ending, I had fun at moments. Many of the episodes run slow (“Violet” immediately comes to mind), but apart from the ending, this is a fine show. The soundtrack is incredible. The plot preceding “White” is a good time. 

All-in-all, “Kaleidoscope” isn’t the worst piece of media on Netflix.

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