Baby Bandito

Baby Bandito
Baby Bandito
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The baby bandito is a joint Netflix-Chilean creation that brings together two of the most popular genres, the heist thriller and true crime. The eight-episode series is not strictly factual, rather it takes a character-driven approach to retelling the story of a real-life crime. It’s a laudable endeavour, if one let down slightly by sticking too closely to familiar plot beats and character turns.

Baby Bandito Season 1 review and plot summary

It’s apparent that Baby Bandito is living in a post-Money Heist streaming world, but it’s hiding its cards well. The robbery happens early on; we skip through the planning stages and spend the rest of the time dealing with what comes after – which is based on what each person does in response to their own circumstances and history.

Kevin Tapia, our protagonist, isn’t some kind of lifelong con artist despite an ill-judged “You’re probably wondering how I got here” opening. He’s just a kid. His dad is in prison, his mum has been dabbling in crime to make ends meet, and when he meets Genesis, a girl from a well-off family, he quickly realises that the only way she’ll look twice at him is if he goes way above his means. Stealing several billion pesos from an armoured truck at an airport isn’t so much an option as presented as such a sudden one that it’s amazing any part of this hastily assembled crew – featuring Genesis and his friend Panda among others – could have pulled it off.

But again: not really the point. What does a child do with effectively limitless wealth? How carried away can they get? How many times can they keep making selfish decisions based on more selfish decisions without something snapping or someone dying? How far will friendship stretch? Family? These are Baby Bandito ’s interests.

Also – and trust me I know how bad this sounds – it’s kind of a scathing critique on vapid social media “influencing”; an illustration of that quote about people spending money they haven’t earned on things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like. Kevin’s actions throughout the series are almost unfathomably dumb, but this is not bad writing: most kids his age are dumb, and most of them would be made even dumber by having too much money or a girlfriend with expensive tastes. All he wants is validation.

So thematically, Baby Bandito is an interesting take on the heist genre. But in every other way it’s just… wrong. The structure is baffling and the pacing bonkers; we rush through the build-up to and execution of the heist so quickly because we’re busy focusing on what happens afterwards, only for each of Kevin’s gang members to turn out to be more resourceful than a team full of experts could ever dream of being when faced with hardened career criminals and law enforcement at every single turn.

The priority is also wrong. In this upshot almost everyone is interesting in their own way, but the amount of screen time given to Kevin and Genesis is so great that it makes other characters not only feel deprived but sometimes actively ignored. For example, Panda – Kevin’s friend – undergoes a complete transformation of his appearance and character which goes unexplained; some crew members have personal and family relationships with each other that are barely mentioned. Another villain is taken down by means of a completely unexpected connection with a cop who we hardly know. The whole thing is just a little strange.

A reasonable but flawed take on the heist genre.

I’m not saying don’t watch it: Baby Bandito offers enough entertainment value and is executed at a reasonably competent level. But it’s more fascinating to think about than actually see.

True, the show comes to obvious conclusions – money can’t buy happiness; human connection trumps materialism, et al – but they’re still worth remembering, especially within a genre that often celebrates heroes’ getting away with lots of loot. What can be frustrating or silly about the show’s route to these truths, though, may depend on how much you enjoy it. In an overpopulated field, Baby Bandito tries hard.

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