Binge-watching big-budget US crime TV is among the most satisfying cultural trends of the early 21st century. And if ever there’s a time to enjoy televisual law-breaking, it’s when one is confined indoors, unable to go out and create one’s own mischief.
Ozark evidently aims to attain the heights of narco-crime hits like Breaking Bad. Based on three sizzling seasons, Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams’ creation has the moxie. The plot sees accountant Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) forced to uproot his family from Chicago to the rural resort community of Osage Beach, Missouri to launder $500m of drug cartel money. Pugnacious local crime family the Langmores and heroin-producing couple the Snells have their interest piqued, as Byrde keeps the cartel at bay and his family alive by creatively cooking the books.
Byrde’s plight recalls that of Toni Servillo’s mob broker in Paolo Sorrentino’s The Consequences of Love (2004), but Ozark has more intensity and vigour, offering shocking retribution and superb profanity. It’s thrilling to see so many top-flight actors playing memorable characters. Bateman, Peter Mullan, Julia Garner and Lisa Emery excel but Laura Linney is the pick. Captivating and complex as arch-lobbyist, mother and master fixer Wendy Byrde, Linney is the one to watch as tensions rise and bodies fall.
Digital Production Editor