What is the story about?
Don Minu, an ageing Mafioso in Italy, decides to order a large shipment of cocaine, in order to safeguard his reputation, but he faces a rebellion from his grandson Stefano. In Mexico, the Leyra brothers, who are supposed to supply the cocaine, become the targets of an anti-drug crackdown. Stuck between these two worlds, the Lynwood siblings come to terms with the death of their father and their murky profession as brokers.
It feels strange to be reviewing another show after ZEE5’s Dark 7 White which utilizes the ‘butterfly effect’—a scenario in which a random action taking place in one space can have ripple effects in other scenarios. However, ZeroZeroZero is a different beast altogether. Italian director Stefano Sollima, who also directed the 2018 film Sicario: Day Of The Soldado, seems to have a particular fascination with the works of noted Italian journalist Roberto Saviano. In 2014, Sollima had adapted Saviano’s Gomorrah into a gritty television series in Italian, and now he sets his eyes on the writer’s eponymously-named book for inspiration.
This is a staggeringly ambitious and complex series, with sprawling, labyrinthine plots moving at their own pace in three different countries. The show, however, shows a stunning construction of crime as economic activity, and reminds us that ultimately all crime is part of a parallel economy which, as Saviano’s works have meticulously shown over the years, paradoxically powers the “legitimate” global economy as well. Once all threads are laid out in the first couple of episodes, the action becomes riveting from the third episode onwards, and they culminate in a terrific last couple of episodes where every loose end is tied up. Sollima and his team know what there are doing, and they pull off one of the most audacious shows of 2020 in style. In doing so, they end up accomplishing what Gomorrah and McMafia could not—creating a truly global television show.
The show features a mammoth cast of characters, with sharply defined roles for everyone. Andrea Riseborough and Dane DeHaan lend vulnerability and pluck to siblings Emma and Chris Lynwood. As the hotheaded and ambitious Stefano, Giuseppe de Domenico is competent, while Adriano Chiaramida lends gravitas to his portrayal of Don Minu. But perhaps the most compelling performance comes from Harold Torres, who plays the Special Forces operative-turned-drug lord Manuel to great effect.
Music & Other Departments
Paolo Carnera, Romain Lacourbas and Vittorio Omodei Zorini capture the constantly-ticking nature of the various crime economies with sweeping precision. Paki Meduri’s production design is superb. Mogwai comes up with a hauntingly sparse score.
The action set-pieces are impressively filmed, but it is the screenplay which is the real winner
Certain scenes may be upsetting for children.
Did I enjoy it?
A resounding yes.
Do I recommend it?
Absolutely. Every episode of this needs to be watched and savoured just for the dense screenplay, if nothing else. This is a masterclass in panoramic storytelling.