‘Brigands: The Quest For Gold’ Review: An Italian Period Drama That Made No Sense

Bandidos was the last Netflix Mexico original that dealt with a group of people on the hunt to find ancient gold from an obscure place after laboriously going through many obstacles based on an ancient map. Heist shows are the current rage and also a genre that is being overused. The new Netflix Italian show Brigands: The Quest for Gold is a historical drama that talks about a band of thieves from centuries ago looking for gold whose existence was supposed to be a myth. The miniseries was released on April 23, 2024, on the streaming platform.


This six-episode series had a run time of forty minutes to over fifty minutes each. This bizarre show began with a bunch of brigands of southern Italy centuries ago rebelling against the crown, naming them invaders. These brigands, also known as the Monaco, terrorized villages and ambushed the crown’s army at unexpected places. This time around, they were joined by a landlord’s wife, Filomena Clemente, who was accused of killing her husband. Filomena, to gain the trust of the group, claimed to know of a certain map that would take them to a chest of gold that was historically taken from the Bank of Palermo during a period of local civil unrest, and history claims it to have disappeared from the face of the earth.

Apart from the Monaco, there was a wild prophecy spreading around the southern part of Italy about a woman who would free all of them from the invaders. She had been going from town to town fighting for her cause, and there was a poster of hers being posted everywhere with the word ‘Freedom’ on it. To counter all of this, a bounty hunter named Sparrowhawk was hired to not just capture Filomena. Sparrowhawk might even know something about the gold, but his hunger for a quick buck could drive him to rat out the so-called enemies of the state. Could Filomena help them reach the treasure? Did Sparrowhawk eventually become a part of the brigands? Was there any truth to the prophecy about the woman liberating the South?


Brigands: The Quest for Gold on Netflix was unbearable for many reasons, and one of them has to be that the makers of the show randomly began it without explaining the context or the timeline it was set in. Right from the start, there was so much emphasis on the style quotient that the substance had no weight all the way to the end. The screenplay and story were bizarre to the point that it took three episodes to understand the premise, and by the time the show was halfway through, it got weirder with new subplots and its inconclusive endings.

Period drama as a genre usually has to explain the premise in depth so that we get to know the characters and their motivations to carry out any act. Here, the show began with a voiceover, and the makers forgot about it halfway. The fight between the brigands and the army of the king was not structured well, and pure animosity was the only emotion that was fueling the story, nothing else. The names of the characters were scattered and confusing, as the narrative does not do a good job of explaining their roles in the grand scheme of things. The screenplay was filled with random subplots and storytelling, which took a bizarre turn in the last two episodes as events kept happening with no explanation of any sort. The oddly constructed screenplay was the reason why the show struggled to entertain.


The heist genre was supposed to keep people on their toes, but in the case of this mini-series, many could not wait for the show to end because, even till the end, the makers not only kept introducing new characters out of nowhere, but there was no explanation as to what exactly transpired in the climax of the show. Are the viewers supposed to be waiting for season two? Don’t think so. Deaths were included in the narrative just for shock value. The screenplay and the story could have been set in the current timeline, but still, it wouldn’t have made sense because it needed emotions, which were lacking from the start until the end.

The show had some excellent direction and cinematography, but the bad writing of the central characters caused a major hindrance to these important technical marvels. Brigands: The Quest for Gold ended up having some great action set pieces followed by brilliant direction by Antonio Le Fosse, Steve Saint Leger, and Nicola Sorcinelli. Unfortunately, it went into the waste bin because the narration could not hold itself. Benjamin Maier’s excellent cinematography required a better story, and it never did justice to the visuals and the colors in the show. It could be compared to the latest Malayalam film, “Malaikottai Vaaliban,” which had some crazy experimentation when it came to direction and cinematography, but the screenplay was too wafer thin to admire.


Viewers were perplexed and kept waiting for a showdown, but it was very predictable and outlandish. The writers hardly dedicated any time to any character arc to witness their growth. A graph would have helped people come to terms with understanding their motivation for their decisions in the show, but none of them had any. The brigands were like the Robin Hoods of Italy, the ultimate do-gooders, while the army of the crown were the only bad people with zero redemption arc. These characters had only surface-level conflicts, but it was hardly explored to pick apart their inner thoughts and conflicts. For example, in a subplot involving the leader of the gang Monaco, Pietro had a harsh and complicated relationship with his father; the elderly man throughout the show had admonished him for not being the right leader. Out of nowhere, the father figure had a change of heart and took his son’s side with no explanation whatsoever. There was also a wedding scenario that seemed like a low-priced version of The Red Wedding from Game of Thrones, another random subplot that was not required.

The build-up to the Sparrowhawk and the woman who would fulfill the prophecy was a classic example of the lazy execution of an important subplot. There was no explanation as to why the Brits dressed in a certain way or what their history was. The production design and the costume department needed to be lauded, but all of them could not shoulder the show as the viewers wanted to be more engaged in the plot than the sets and the clothes.


There were plenty of characters in the show, yet none were defined properly, which was infuriating. The show was maddening and tiresome after a point. The show could have spent time scripting well-defined heist shows instead of letting all of them lose, as no one cared. Bad characterization also led to hardly impressive performances. The show had many strong female characters, but the writers and the makers hardly spent time on them to explain why they stood out from the rest of them. The antagonist was out and out negative with no redemptive quality, Fumel, portrayed by Pietro Micci. The actor looked more like a Bond villain than a character from the past who was wearing tea shades throughout the show. Not sure how era-appropriate the sunglasses were. The performances were severely affected by a shaky and confusing screenplay, which sadly never elevated any actors or their sincere efforts to stand out. None of them were memorable enough.

Brigands: The Quest for Gold was a huge letdown from Netflix Italy, and the makers offered a dull show that could be skipped. A period drama that never made sense. 


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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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