Jason Bateman with a gun to his head in Netflix's Ozark

Impressions: Ozark

Network
Netflix
Release Date
July 21st, 2017
Episode
S01E01 “Sugarwood”

Are you a Breaking Bad fan? Well, Netflix’s Ozark might just be your cup of meth. Ozark is created by screenwriter Bill Dubuque (The Accountant, A Family Man), and main player, Jason Bateman, directs a bunch of the episodes.

You may know Jason Bateman as the everyman. The one that comments on ridiculous situations, but is mostly straight-laced. Well, he doesn’t give up that persona completely, but he’s introduced to a much darker world than that of the cheeky Bluth family in Arrested Development.

I don’t want to say Ozark is entirely a Breaking Bad clone. Sure, the Mexican cartels, the drug dealing and the money laundering are there. Even the barrels of acid. So is the everyman ‘breaking bad’ to make money for his family. Okay, so it does sound very Breaking Badish, but for better or worse Ozark does not have the twisted dark humour of that show. It is a much more nihilistic beast with little hope of respite from the menacing world our characters inhabit.

We jump into the story a few years down the line in Chicago. Marty (Bateman) is a well-established financial advisor and has already been money laundering for drug kingpin Del (Esai Morales) for some time now. Then things go south, fast. His family, more so his wife Wendy (Laura Linney), appears to play a larger role in the series, than Walter White’s, who were often put to the sidelines. By episode’s end, Marty and fam are off to the mountainous Ozarks.

Jason Bateman and Laura Linney in Netflix's Ozark

Ozark doesn’t let up. When this episode gets going it drags you by the scruff of the neck and pulls you through a criminal underbelly of sadistic violence and bleak no-hope-left situations. And for some reason or another, you can’t help but be transfixed by its utter darkness, whether it’s the despairing twists and turns of the plot or the muted presentation onscreen.

Ozark‘s nihilistic tone and dark cinematography may be off-putting, but it looks to be a plot with momentum.

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Michael Gray
Editor

TV has always been a part of Michael’s life, but since the influx of streaming shows now he can’t stop (someone send help). He also dabbles in films and video games, and has a mean board game collection.


Michael has a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. He has previously written about video games for publications including Game Console, Salient, and ButtonMasher.