First look UK TV review: ZeroZeroZero
Ivan Radford | On 04, Feb 2021
From Narcos to Breaking Bad, the small screen is hardly short of drug-dealing thrillers. But Sky gives the genre a fresh shot of adrenaline with new drama ZeroZeroZero, which flies in from Italy. Based on the novel of the same name by Gomorrah’s Roberto Saviano, and adapted by Suburra’s Stefano Sollima, it’s a thriller steeped in style, colour and tension – and lots of illegal substances.
The show, not unlike McMafia, finds its impact by zooming out to a global scale, giving us a dizzying overview of the cocaine trade, jumping from New Orleans to Calabria and Mexico. In each of these locations, we get a fresh dive into another layer of the industry – the dealers, the ‘Ndrangheta, are trying to navigate power and control while awaiting a delivery from the suppliers, in Mexico, where an army veteran has the clinical discipline needed to form his own cartel, and, in America, the Lynwood family are the brokers connecting the two with consequences waiting in the wings.
Adriano Chiaramida brin gravitas as an ageing gangster fending off his ambitious grandson, while Harold Torres sinks his teeth to Manuel, who is as much a church-goer as a military man, but in the sea of characters – too many to get emotionally engaged with in the initial episodes – the Lynwoods stand out, with Gabriel Byrne getting a deserved chance to shine as patriarch Edward who loves money more than his family, Andrea Riseborough stealing every scene going as his daughter, Emma, who’s been raised as his natural heir, and a superbly intense Dane DeHaan as Edward, a son with Huntington’s disease who is starting to suffer from it.
If that dynasty’s saga proves the meatiest and most interesting, ZeroZeroZero knows to intercut its human drama with some gripping action set pieces, from car chases to a riveting freighter showdown – all of which is filmed by Sollima, Janus Metz and Pablo Trapero with heft and breathtaking lighting. With a soundtrack by Mogwai that lulls you into the show’s sombre mood, the result may be shallow at times, but it’s slick, confident storytelling that keeps you hooked – it’s only after a few episodes that you realise we never see the victims of this seemingly unstoppable trade, because these cold, self-centred businesspeople don’t give them a second thought.
ZeroZeroZero Season 1 is available on Sky Atlantic. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it live and on-demand legally on NOW TV, for £9.99 a month, with no contract and a 7-day free trial.