Ozark is a complex and gripping dark thriller that might just be 2017’s newest TV hit.
Netflix‘s newest crime drama, Ozark, takes money-laundering into the picturesque but morally tainted summer resort in the Missouri Ozarks. Directed, starring and produced by Golden Globe Award-winner Jason Bateman, Ozark brings a unique twist to the crime genre. The show forces us to accept, and go on a journey with characters who are flawed, selfish and on the verge of death. While Ozark may be a slow-burn, the morose thriller delivers in a way that is completely unexpected, taking the ‘breaking bad’ theme and flipping it on its head. The gripping performances and intense script force us to care for unlikely characters as their paths – paved with criminal and horrifically unethical choices – ultimately expose their humanity.
Ozark introduces us to financial advisor Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) who has been quietly laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel with his partner Bruce (Josh Randall). When his partner is caught stealing money, Marty, his wife Wendy (Academy Award nominated Laura Linney), and their two teenage kids Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner), are forced to relocate to the Ozarks to replace the missing funds and avoid a gruesome death. But when they get there, their task proves near impossible as they are faced with messy obstacles and a defiant clan of Langmore rednecks lead by 19-year-old matriarch Ruth (Julia Garner) who plot to rid Marty of his bounty.
Ozark revolves around two central questions, ‘what motivates a person to desire money?’ and ‘what happens to them once they get it?’. The 10-episode series takes us on a journey into the human condition, as we follow a man who wants money to provide for his family, a girl who wants money to please her father, a boy who wants to escape, and a drug king who is fuelled by greed. The series brings the characters on a circular journey to find what was already inside them – leaving the audience with little choice but to care about their well-being.
The characters’ plights are brought to life with stellar performances from leads Jason Bateman, who portrays the stingy, staunch, no-nonsense, and emotionally unavailable Marty, Laura Linney who brings to life his wife, Wendy Byrde, a strong-willed, risky woman, whose loyalty is brought into question when she feels neglected, and Julia Garner who brings a quality performance portraying a dangerous hick with a heart – who is arguably the most likable character in the series.
While Ozark sets its sights on delving into the human condition, it doesn’t take a step back from violence, blood and gruesome scare-tactics. The thriller is dark, gloomy and intriguing, but takes its time building immersion, which could lead some viewers to tune out before the story, and its characters, have a chance to grow.
Despite its slow start, the moody and morose crime-drama offers a dramatic and rewarding conclusion. Ozark draws viewers in with a promising Breaking Bad feel but ultimately manages to set itself apart from the familiar TV genre, bringing a small-town filled with unique, quirky and dark personalities. Ozark will take you on a morally questionable journey leaving you intrigued, revolted and ready for more. All in all, the series brings a strong cast and a uniquely compelling script that sets itself up to be a Netflix hit.
Netflix’s original series Ozark will hit the streaming platform July 21.
Starring: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Sofia Hublitz, Skylar Gaertner, Julia Garner, Jordana Spiro, Jason Butler Harner, Esai Morales, Peter Mullan and Lisa Emery.
Directed by: Jason Bateman, Daniel Sackheim, Ellen Kuras and Andrew Bernstein.
Produced by: Patrick Markey. Executive produced by Jason Bateman, Chris Mundy, Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams.
Production Design: Roshelle Berliner and Derek R. Hill.
Directors of Photography: Pepe Avila del Pino, Ben Kutchins, and Michael McGrady.
Music by: Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurrians.