Plot: Evil Genius begins with one of the strangest real life bank heists ever, as a man walks into a bank and claims that if he doesn’t rob the location, the bomb around his neck will explode. Even once the police arrived, most believed the bomb to be a fake, until an alarm was emitted. The bomb would go off and the man was killed, but police were still baffled as to what happened. Was this man an innocent caught in the middle of a criminal plan, or was he more involved than he had claimed? In Evil Genius, this story alone would provide enough craziness to fill a mini-series, but it serves as just the start to a wild web of deception, greed, and unstable personalities.
Entertainment Value: Evil Genius is a four episode mini-series that is ideal for a platform like Netflix, as waiting between episodes would be a nightmare. This one kicks off with a bank heist with some serious Saw vibes, a crime that is always at the heart of the series, but so many threads unravel from that one crime, it is almost too wild to be true, but it is. At the center of this web is Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, a woman with a strong personality and a dark past, the kind of past that makes it all too possible that she could mastermind this kind of bizarre crime. She is featured often in Evil Genius and she denies her involvement, but shares a lot of her thoughts and of course, we hear from others close to her. I appreciate that Evil Genius allows her to be heard through her own words, as first hand accounts always offer a unique perspective and her involvement elevates the entire series.
The other characters in this mind bending story are also quite colorful, though most were unable to participate, as Evil Genius follows a trail that left more than a few people dead. But Bill Rothstein proves to be a strong presence in the story and through archival interviews, he is able to tell his side of the story, or at least the side he chooses to share, that is. These are clearly people who are willing to go to great lengths to get what they want, regardless of who gets hurt or killed in the process. As such, the story might be too dark or relentless for some true crime fans, but I think the story itself is enough to keep most genre fans reeled in. Evil Genius is well crafted, with a slick visual presence and a brisk pace that keeps you hooked from the jump. And of course, this wouldn’t be an addictive true crime series without escalating reveals and Evil Genius delivers there, including a hell of a final twist. If you have even a casual interest in true crime, Evil Genius is highly recommended.