On the floor, Kaleidoscope is a simple, albeit generic, heist story. It hits all the beats you’d anticipate: the revenge-filled backstory, the complicated technique of discovering a staff and forming a plan, and the satisfaction of watching that plan unfold. And since Kaleidoscope’s story spans round 25 years, you get loads of all of these issues over the course of its eight episodes. But that’s not what makes the present fascinating. Kaleidoscope can also be an interesting experiment, an try to inform the form of drama most viewers are accustomed to — however designed so that you could watch episodes in any order. As a nonlinear story, it’s successful — however as a enjoyable crime caper, Kaleidoscope leaves quite a bit to be desired.
The sequence is centered on Leo (Giancarlo Esposito), a profession felony and the mastermind behind a plan to steal $7 billion in bonds from a seemingly impenetrable vault in New York. To do this, he assembles a seven-person staff of consultants (which means the bounty splits into an excellent $1 billion every) to steal the cash as a part of a long-running revenge plot. Because the present covers such a big span of time, you get to see Leo and the remainder of the crew — which incorporates everybody from a hot-headed safecracker (Jai Courtney) to a chemist who likes to experiment with new concoctions (Rosaline Elbay) — at numerous factors of their lives.
But the way you method that story is essentially as much as you. There’s a selected episode you’re meant to look at because the finale, which covers the precise occasions of the heist. But the remainder of the episodes are supposed to be watched in any order. I began out chronologically, seeing Leo as an up-and-coming jewel thief and later, as he ages inside a jail. Then I selected to leap round a bit: I watched the prep for the heist, then the day after it passed off, and rounded it out with the day earlier than. Then I jumped into the finale.
The order you watch the episodes doesn’t change how the story performs out. There’s no interactive ingredient right here. But the order does change the way you understand every episode. Because I began chronologically, I already understood the historical past between Leo and Roger (Rufus Sewell), the safety knowledgeable he’s making an attempt to rob; if I had watched it the opposite method round, their backstory would have been a significant reveal. At least within the order I occurred to look at it in, the nonlinear construction labored fairly effectively. The heist itself is the middle, with all the different tales orbiting round it, offering all the mandatory element so you may perceive simply went down and why sure occasions are essential.
The drawback with Kaleidoscope isn’t the construction; it’s with the present itself. It’s very uneven. There are some enjoyable action-filled heist moments; the finale particularly is a spotlight. And I actually loved the ridiculously convoluted plan, which includes not solely unusual high-tech devices but in addition some low-tech options like precise bees (seeing how they get used is perhaps my favourite half). But the storyline is filled with cliches to the purpose that not one of the massive reveals — a minimum of within the order I watched it in — felt like a lot of a shock. The forged does its finest with the fabric in entrance of them, and the felony gang is usually a captivating bunch, however they’re saddled with drab dialogue and, in some instances, a number of the worst de-aging make-up I can recall seeing. (It’s so dangerous that the actors battle to emote with their faces.)
There are different parts that really feel not significantly effectively thought-out. For occasion, every episode is known as after a coloration, and the story is said to that indirectly. The “Violet” episode connects to a selected piece of bijou, whereas “Pink” pertains to a cherished childhood object. It’s a pleasant concept, however the connections between coloration and theme usually really feel tenuous and unimportant. And on the technical facet, Netflix’s insistence on mechanically enjoying the following episode was just a little annoying once I was making an attempt to plot my very own explicit journey by means of this story.
While I want the present itself have been extra thrilling, Kaleidoscope does work as a proof of idea. And it’s particularly fascinating as Netflix continues to experiment with nonlinear and interactive storytelling, from the “choose your own adventure” type of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch to live-action video video games like Immortality (which is on the market on cellular solely by means of Netflix’s app). Kaleidoscope isn’t the way forward for TV — but it surely does trace at one path that future would possibly go in.
Kaleidoscope is streaming on Netflix now.
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