Jason Bateman plays financial planner Marty Byrde in new Netflix drama Ozark.
Ozark … “A series that preys on our worst instincts.” Photograph: Peter Kramer/Getty Images A new drama about the underbelly of life in Missouri has enough intrigue, mystery and thrills to keep even Lady Macbeth interested. Ozark is a 10-part Netflix original series set in the dark world of drug laundering. Jason Bateman, who also directed four episodes, stars as financial planner Marty Byrde, married to Wendy (Laura Linney) and the father of two children. A chance remark by his wife forces Byrde into action when he learns that the family’s lake house was bought with dirty money from the Mexican cartels. “I’m sorry I started my answer with an apology,” Byrde jokes, “but I guess that’s where we are.” He packs up the family and they leave Chicago for the more sedate surroundings of the scenic Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.
The Byrdes move into a rundown cabin and Marty sets about trying to save his family from harm. Bateman manages to get under the skin of a desperate man who lacks the swagger and confidence that saw him succeed in Chicago. Byrde is not dealing with hardened criminals but golf course owners, politicians and small-time crooks looking for an easy buck. Still, the threat of violence is everywhere. It is worth sticking with Ozark because it preys on our worst instincts. It is a show set in the American heartland, but it could be transplanted to any number of places where corruption has taken root. Ozark works by creating tension and watching Bateman nervously try to work out who he can trust. His character looks completely lost until he decides to take matters into his own hands by buying a strip club. This is not the family-friendly TV you might expect from Netflix, but it works because Ozark looks at normal people living next door to a world they cannot comprehend. Phillip McCarthy is chief film critic for Variety and author of The Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow (IB Tauris)
Netflix’s latest original series, Ozark, packs enough intrigue and mystery into its dense first seven episodes to keep even Lady Macbeth interested. The series aired on Netflix on July 21st and is available for streaming via the service. Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, Horrible Bosses) stars as financial planner Marty Byrde who lives in Chicago with his wife, Wendy (Laura Linney), and two children. The Byrde family has a lake house in Missouri that is owned by an associate of Mexican drug cartels, Del (Esai Morales). Marty’s life quickly unravels when he is forced to become involved with the cartel and their brutal money laundering schemes. Bateman plays the role well as a man who is uncomfortable with his new duties, but he becomes more menacing by the episode. Byrde tries to set aside more money for the cartels so that they will spare his family while he is laundering their cash. Bateman has a few welcome comedic moments when he struggles in vain to find legal ways of making money, but Ozark quickly shifts to drama mode when Marty decides to buy a strip club and fill it with drug money. The dramatic tension is unmistakable in Ozark as Byrde struggles to keep his family safe while trying to appease the bloodthirsty cartel leaders.