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Series Review: “Kaleidoscope” Weaves a Catchy Web, Despite Clichés

Written by: Adam Vaughn | January 1st, 2023

Sereis poster: “Kaleidoscope”

Kaleidoscope (Eric Garcia, 2023) 3 out of 4 stars.

Kaleidoscope tells the story of Leo Papp (Giancarlo Esposito, Beauty) as he attempts to rob the vault of wealthy businessman—and his ex-best friend—Roger Sales (Rufus Sewell, Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle series). As the story progresses, we learn about the nature of the heist, such as who is involved and why, Papp’s dark and tragic history as a bank thief, and the impact that the heist of the ostensibly “unbreakable” safe has on all that are involved. Showrunner Eric Garcia brings it all together with a unique sense of storytelling, weaving the events of the robbery, its preparation, and the fallout of the aftermath in delightfully non-chronological order.

While it may be a big gimmicky, the most driving force to Garcia’s story is the unveiling of various plot points through the timing of the episodes, and how the final episode puts a definitive conclusion to the story. The main ensemble—consisting of Esposito, Sewell, Tati Gabrielle (Uncharted), Paz Vega (13 Minutes), Jai Courtney (Honest Thief) and several other intense actors—creates a close-knit group of characters that are pitted against each other. Overall, the mystery behind the heist gives Kaleidoscope its major appeal, and the pieces all come together to form a satisfying finale.

Still from KALEIDOSCOPE ©Netflix

While the show does feature solid execution, Kaleidoscope does not necessarily explore new avenues in terms of delivering unique ideas. Once the viewer puts all the pieces together for Garcia’s story, the narrative as a whole becomes a generic, revenge-centered plotline, with most of the heroes winning the day, and the bad guys losing. Sadly, many of the built-up surprises that lie in the jumbled timeline are a bit anticlimactic by the time we reach the end, even if the entire story arc is an engaging one. Needless to say, being generic does not stop Kaleidoscope from having terrific sequences, interesting characters, and a criminal scheme that keeps us intrigued.

l-r: Jordan Mendoza, Peter Mark Kendall, Giancarlo Esposito, Jai Courtney, Rosaline Elbay, and Paz Vega in KALEIDOSCOPE ©Netflix

Kaleidoscope isn’t necessarily anything that will stand the test of time as a groundbreaking achievement in a series, but telling the story out of chronological order in itself creates a sense of mystery. Plus, the idea that Netflix will shuffle the episode order for every viewer has the potential for Kaleidoscope to be a fun and interactive experience, which will surely be its strongest suit. Outside of this, it’s otherwise just one in a long line of many bank-heist movies.

l-r: Giancarlo Esposito and Tati Gabrielle in KALEIDOSCOPE ©Netflix

Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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