The Reel Review
Jason Bateman stars in this Netflix crime series about a Chicago financial planner forced to move his reluctant wife (Laura Linney) and their two children to the Missouri Ozarks to launder money for a Mexican drug cartel. There, they find themselves caught in the crosshairs of exciting new, highly illegal opportunities, as their list of business associates expands to include corrupt politicians, local business owners, hillbilly heroin dealers and big city mobsters. Ozark is a thrilling, highly entertaining exploration of the dark side of human nature.
Ozark feels like the cleverly-written, lakefront-dwelling lovechild of Breaking Bad and Survivor, with our protagonist narrowly escaping death in nearly every episode by outwitting, outplaying and outlasting his many enemies. Bateman (who also directs the first two episodes of each season) is spot on as the calculating brainiac with a knack for problem solving under tremendous pressure, as is Linney as his sharp-witted, power hungry wife, who discovers that she actually loves the thrill of a life of danger. Julia Garner, however, is the heart of the show, as Ruth, the trailer-dwelling, potty-mouthed townie who’s clever enough to escape poverty, but not quite able to escape the whirlwind of drama that comes with her new life. Her clever one liners alone are worth the binge.
Seasons 1 and 2 are taut and thrilling, with season 3 a little slower to heat up, as the writers, in their quest to keep the intricate story fresh, introduce new characters (an excellent Janet McTeer as cartel lawyer Helen, a physically imposing, take-no-prisoners antithesis of Game of Thrones‘ noble Brienne of Tarth). Where season 3 falls a bit short is in the actions of its main characters – which are too often highly improbable and out of character – chief among them, the wildly improbable addition of Wendy’s loose-lipped, mentally ill brother Ben. Tom Pelphrey (Banshee, Iron Fist) however, delivers an Emmy award-worthy performance. That episode 9 – wow.
Season 1: A
Season 2: A+
Season 3: B+
• At the beginning of each episode, the title is shown with four symbols inside of an O that foreshadow key events from that episode. The symbols also spell the letters Z-A-R-K to form OZARK altogether.
• Jason Bateman and Julia Garner won directing and supporting actress Emmys for their work in Season 2 of Ozark.
• Although set in The Ozarks, Ozark is filmed in Georgia.