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Ozark: Season One

Review by CJ

Director:
Jason Bateman, Daniel Sackheim, Andrew Bernstein, Ellen Kuras

Writer:
Bill Dubuque, Mark Williams, Paul Kolsby, Ryan Farley, Martin Zimmerman, Whit Anderson, Alyson Feltes, Chris Mundy

Starring:
Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Sofia Hublitz, Skylar Gaertner, Julia Garner, Jason Butler Harner, Esai Morales, Peter Mullan, Lisa Emery, Charlie Tahan, Marc Menchaca, Harris Yulin

Other notable appearances:
Josh Randall, Jordana Spiro, McKinley Belcher III, Christopher James Baker, Carson Holmes, Kevin L. Johnson, Evan George Vourazeris, Adam Boyer, Michael Mosley, Bethany Anne Lind

Running time:
52-80 minutes

Number of episodes:
10

 

Money launderer and financial advisor Marty Byrde (Bateman) finds himself in hot water when his Mexican drug cartel boss finds out Marty’s partner has been stealing from them. Thinking fast to save his family, Marty promises that he will move his family from Chicago to the Ozarks in order to launder more money for the cartel.

Upon arriving in small town Missouri, Marty discovers that while there are less Government agencies, there is no shortage of challenges for a would-be money launderer in the boondocks.

There are so many similarities between Ozark and Breaking Bad that it’s no wonder people have been comparing the two in droves. From the everyman become criminal mastermind to the insufferable wife to the lead male having primarily been known for comedic roles in the past. The similarities are there. But there is enough that sets Ozark apart to make it a unique and fascinating look into the world of money laundering, drug cartels and small town big crime.

The plot of Ozark, while similar in parts to Breaking Bad, never feels particularly derivative. While most of the story follows a few individual threads, they all tie together well and the pacing is on point. At 10 episodes, Ozark is a great length for binge watching and doesn’t get tiresome after a few episodes.

There are some fantastic surprise moments in Ozark that are both visually and dramatically spectacular. Some you might sense but others may shock you. The first surprise is by far the best though. No spoilers. You’ll know if when you see it.

Having only seen Jason Bateman appear in comedic roles, one of the first things I noticed about Ozark is how magnificently he plays a dramatic role. The same minute facial gestures that make him a great dry comedic specialist, make Bateman’s performance as the reserved financial advisor all the more fascinating.

Laura Linney is wonderful in her role as Marty Byrde’s wife Wendy. Don’t let the insufferable comment above fool you. Linney’s character is insufferable because of the actions she takes, the justifications she tries to make for those actions and the way she reacts to repercussions of those actions later. Linney, however, plays the role with her usual talent and grace.

If you enjoyed Breaking Bad, there’s a great chance that you will love Ozark. Fans of crime dramas from the bad guys’ perspective and television shows based in dark reality should also check out the first season of what looks to be a great series.

Rating:

“Money is not peace of mind. Money’s not happiness. Money is, at its essence that measure of a man’s choices.”

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