Spain keeps delivering fantastic content for Netflix. After the big success of shows like Money Heist, Netflix knows that there is a big audience for productions like this one. Welcome To Eden was another great success on the platform just a couple of months ago. So, between dark thrillers, and action shows, Spain is outperforming every single European country when it comes to producing high-quality shows for the streaming service.
So, once again, this week, Netflix releases another Spanish show, one that hits more in line with Money Heist than any other before. Actually, the resemblance to a money heist might be its biggest strength and weakness. We are talking about The Longest Night, an action thriller that wants to hit the same bits as the heist phenomenon and become the weekend talk. This action thriller created by Oscar Pedraza and Victor Sierra also stars Alberto Ammann, Luis Callejo, Maria Caballero, and Daniel Albaladejo, among others.
The show tells the story of a psychiatrist prison that is suddenly under siege by a group of mercenaries. The mercenaries want a prisoner and they will not leave until Hugo, the director of the prison, gives him to them. The prisoner is a serial killer that was recently captured by the police. However, it seems like the criminal has a lot more than the location of his victims under his sleeve. The show is a mixture of intrigue, numerous plot twists, and lots of action.
The show’s premise is very elegant and efficient. Basically, the series spends most of its time inside one location, the prison. Hallways and rooms are very limited, and they are used in such a way that the limitations of the sets never really managed to become an obstacle for the story. Actually, it becomes positive as the audience starts developing knowledge about the layout of the prison, and it becomes quite funny to see how we learn about the building as the plot progresses.
The series moves at a very good pace. However, the episodes that comprise the middle of the season can feel like a drag, as the show just circles around for quite a while until the solutions to the problems and the revelations are made apparent. It is at this moment that it is clear that not every story should be stretched out into a full-length series. The Longest Night is only six episodes of 45 minutes each, but as the season comes to a close, it feels like it could have been just three episodes and that would have been enough.
Choosing when to begin your story is just as important as recognizing which shape should your story take. Is this a story that serves better as a novel or a short story? Can this plot work the best as a TV show or as a movie? In the case of The Longest Night, a movie of about two hours and a half would have been more than enough. Leave out a lot of the fluff and cut some characters, and you get a stronger, more focused plot that allows for the revelations to have more impact.
It is a very strange case happening in today’s entertainment environment. It seems that many shows don’t warrant their length sometimes it seems that the story is just being stretched to fit a quota of episodes. Meanwhile, movies feel bloated, as their short running time doesn’t allow for characters and plots to develop well enough. The recent cases of Multiverse of Madness or Thor Love and Thunder make the issue very clear.
The Longest Night does offer a great cast. All the actors are doing their best, even when some characters don’t really have a lot to do in the story. That is another issue, there are just too many characters. This fits the prison scenario, but by giving them names and backstories, the show think that this is enough to make them relevant. When it is actually the opposite as there is too much focus on characters that don’t do anything in the long run. This is an issue of a lot of setups and not enough pay-off.
The series is very well shot. The action sequences aren’t really anything to write home about. They are the standard shoot me, shoot them kind of deal, and they are shot in this gritty and dark cinematography style that fits the mood of the piece. It could have been better? Yes, of course, towards the end of the show, the repetition in the sets feels exhausting, and every new environment becomes a welcomed sight.
In terms of the plot, there are enough twists and turns to keep things engaging, but as an overall story, The Longest Night isn’t very original. The reason these mercenaries are attacking the prison becomes apparent very early on, and yet, the show hides this revelation from the audience for many episodes. When the revelation finally comes, it isn’t surprising, it is more like a relief because now the characters are at the same point in knowledge as the audience.
The Longest Night might not be as effective as Money Heist, but it is very well-made, and it will serve as a fairly good binge-watch if you are in the need of one. The characters are not that charismatic, which makes the show not as fun to watch as it could be. However, the series is still proof that Spain can do great things when they put their minds to it.