‘Iron Reign’ Review: A ‘Godfather’ Style Spanish Crime Drama That Lacks Depth

There have been many shows in the crime drama genre on Spanish Netflix, and many from the Latin American region as well. Most of them are campy and over the top, and borderline seems like telenovelas. Thankfully, the brand-new Spanish drama Iron Reign in the crime genre comes as a breath of fresh air and talks about various crime families navigating their businesses, which converge in the city of Barcelona in Spain. Created and directed by Lluís Quílez, the show was released on March 15, 2024, on Netflix.


Iron Reign is an eight-episode-long show, with each episode having a runtime ranging from forty minutes to more than an hour. The show is a family saga involving the Manchados, who are the reigning mafia kingpins in the city of Barcelona. Brothers Joaquin and Roman Manchado began the narcotics import and supply business, and currently, their family helps them run the empire. His claim to power is his control over the Barcelona port, which is the biggest point of narcotics activity in Europe, and a lot of police officers are under the man’s payroll.

Joaquin’s daughter, Rocío Manchado, along with her husband, Nestor, help him get the business going by bringing in more clients. The family dynamics are murky, and it gets tragic when Joaquin is attacked at the port by an unknown assailant. The mafia kingpin slips into a coma, while the rest of the family, like headless chickens wants control over the business. All of them are trying hard to find out who was behind the attempt on Joaquin’s life, and thus begins the saga of the Manchado family.


The show has a strong beginning, as the makers leave no stone unturned to explain the family dynamics of Joaquin and the people who work for him. There is a lengthy montage dedicated to understanding how Joaquin operates and the kind of men and women he hires for his business to expand. The intricate detail of the screenplay is the biggest takeaway of the show because it allows the audience to understand the relationship every character has with each other. Most of them are complex and intense, and they would not think twice before helping each other. The show also includes many flashback sequences about Joaquin and Roman reaching Barcelona to find work and their climb up the ladder to becoming the most powerful men in this Spanish city. The only concern regarding the flashback scenes would be the lack of depth, and the casting was lackluster. 

The show is as realistic as it gets, and the narrative makes sure to keep it consistent till the end of the first season. The show tries to capture the relationship dynamics of the family members but these portions are a crucial part of the show and lack depth throughout. At some junctures of the show there are several metaphors for backstabbing. It plays a crucial role in putting forward a narrative of how people close to the business end up betraying their own. There is no emotion to understand Joaquin and Roman’s anger and pain at having struggled to reach the position from which they rule the city. It was essential to add more layers and gravitas, and it would have been a good watch like the Hindi classic film Deewar


The relationship dynamics between siblings are the highlight of the show. A sibling makes and breaks any strong family, which is portrayed quite accurately. Rocio and Ricardo, Joaquin and Roman, and Lucia and Ariel. All of them are different types of siblings. There is some kind of realism attached to their stories as they’re told throughout the eight episodes. A major concern about the show is the production of the scenes that are set in the 1980s and 2000s and showcase the life stories of Joaquin and Roman. The show partly becomes a period crime drama, about which the production has hardly spent time helping the audience understand the story of Joaquin and Roman.

The series has been shot mostly in real-life locations, and they could have spent some of the budget on making the flashback sequences era-appropriate. This derailed the narrative, making the show slightly unwatchable. The direction by the creator of the show, Lluís Quílez, is excellent in most of the parts, but it is the dispassionate screenplay that makes the show tedious after a point. There are several subplots introduced in the show as the series progresses, but most of them are not given any decent conclusion. The narrative had a strong start, yet it stalls right in the middle and does not recover from the stagnancy. 


Iron Reign has a lot of similarities with Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather movies, where the family dynamics supersede the business they are a part of. The Fredo angle was obvious and easy to notice in Iron Reign for those who love classic films. It is this familiar relationship that changes the course of destiny for many and forces each to pick up guns against the other.

We only wish the writers had retained the essence and given some original subplots to understand siblings and other relationships; sadly, this made the show redundant. There is also an LGBTQ+ angle, but that does not add any value to the story. It is added only for representation’s sake, which is fair. Other than the direction and the screenplay, the show is high on violence and becomes gory in many portions. Viewer discretion is required for those who are not fans of watching a lot of blood on screen. A “Gangs of Wasseypur ” style of direction could be seen in the film. It was good of the makers to bring up the subject of mental health and why kids and adults like to require therapy to deal with trauma, not black magic, which is highly focused throughout the show.


Iron Reign is an ensemble cast, and the show includes many characters who have a role to play in the business’s bigger scheme of things. The casting director should be lauded for bringing together some good actors under one umbrella. Eduard Fernández as Joaquin, Chino Darín as Victor Julve, Jaime Lorente as Nestor, Natalia de Molina as Rocio, Sergi López as Roman, Enric Auquer as Ricardo Manchado, and many more are a bunch of actors who have put across a good performance that made Iron Reign bearable for some time. All are good actors, and there is a lot of emotion in their performances that makes Iron Reign a good watch most of the time.

Iron Reign would have been an amazing watch if the makers were not trying hard to mimic several gangster films and translate them into a current-age story of mafia families. This caused a lack of depth and made it an average watch. 


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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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