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Home » «Kaleidoscope» Enhances Heist Story With Innovative Choose-Your-Path Format

«Kaleidoscope» Enhances Heist Story With Innovative Choose-Your-Path Format

02 January 2023, Monday
The unoriginality of the "Ocean's Eleven"-style heist series "Kaleidoscope" is undeniable despite its unique puzzle-like gimmick of letting viewers watch the episodes in any order. Unfortunately, the weakly written characters, overly-familiar circumstances and extended logistical interludes cause the show to be generally uninteresting. While still watchable to an extent, the overall effect is one of disappointment.

In this limited series, colors are prominently featured, as each of the eight episodes is assigned its own color – red, orange, white, etc. – instead of being identified with a number. This means that when viewers watch the episodes, details unfold differently, individualizing the experience. Essentially, it allows them to pick and choose their own journey.

Leo Pap (Giancarlo Esposito), a skilled criminal, has put together a crew to execute an intricate plan of robbery and retribution after spending nearly two decades incarcerated. The overall outlook, however, is bleak: it's a narrative that's been playing out over the course of 25 years.

Leo is on a mission to steal billions of dollars in bonds, held by Roger Salas (Rufus Sewell), with whom he has a personal connection. He is accompanied by his partner Ava (Paz Vega) and a team of specialists with varied tasks. However, their constant bickering and infighting threatens to impede the venture.

The episodes cover various points in time, ranging from before Leo was incarcerated (requiring the actors playing the key roles to look younger) to a few weeks before the heist, the actual event itself, and finally the consequences of the jobs.

Created by Eric Garcia, whose inspiration stems from non-linear movies such as "Pulp Fiction" and "Memento", this heist movie offers a unique interactive feature allowing the viewer to arrange the component parts in different sequences. This method is similar to that used in the TV show "Black Mirror's" "Bandersnatch", and attempts to deliver the same idea in a fresh way. Unfortunately, it also tends to weaken engagement with the characters, who experience some intense and violent moments, but rarely illicit an emotional response.

The meticulous planning of a heist brings extra zest to stories like the “Ocean’s” series, though this is not always the case in the more expansive series format. This is apparent in the underlying story of Leo's longing for the daughter he never knew, which contains an element of sentimentality. Such sentimentality does not make the material more compelling.

Ultimately, consider this another one of those exercises that exhausts most of its ingenuity in the basic concept, hoping that – combined with Esposito's steely charisma in a starring role – would be enough of a reward. Netflix may well experience success in terms of people deciding to watch the show during its holiday launch, but the multi-colored vision behind "Kaleidoscope" turns out to be more captivating than the results it produces.
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