ZeroZeroZero is a riveting fare, regardless of being based mostly on narco commerce


Nonika Singh

Betrayal, revenge and bonding; if three words could sum up a drama? Of course, ZeroZeroZero, an Italian series based on Robert Saviano’s novel of the same name, streaming on Amazon Prime is all this and more. Ever since Narcos made it big, we have been deluged with web series hovering around drug trade and cartels. ZeroZeroZero joins the growing list and is a welcome addition, as it plots the link between sellers, buyers and brokers.

Connecting the dots spanning three countries, The US, Mexico and Italy, it takes us from one country to another building the drug network and from one family to another. In Italy, there is a tussle between an old grandfather Don Minu La Piana (Adriano Chiaramida), who comes out of hiding to reclaim his position, and his brash grandson Stefano (Giuseppe De Domenico), who wants to usurp him. In Mexico, we see the rise of a bunch of army soldiers turned rogue. Meant to crack open the drug world, led by Manuel, they not only sup with the devil but become one themselves and raise a new army of ruthless killing machines. In the US, there is a family of three, the Lynwoods, father Edward, daughter Emaa (Andrea Riseborough) and son Chris (Dane DeHaan), who bond despite their fair share of disagreements.

Action in each individual sphere is linked and throws open a heartless world. Amidst violence and barbarism, men being fed to pigs, innocents being shot at without any qualms, there is so much which makes you squirm and cringe. Yet at the centre of the narrative are human faces and relationships. Even the monstrous of them all the Mexican Manuel (Harold Torres), whose stern eyes convey his corrosive steeliness, has a heart it seems. How he goes about demolishing his enemies and constructing a new order for himself makes you shiver. Yet, another scene has him cradling a new-born.

Much of the dramatic tension is around this ship owned by the Lynwoods carrying drugs worth millions of dollars. Will the ship, more importantly the drug consignment, reach its final destination? The why, how and where carries you through several countries, including Morocco and Senegal, and the camera pans from one breath-taking moment to another.

If there is fiction en route the Lynwood’s journey (an interface with Islamist jihadists too), there is beauty in the panoramic shots and then there is a story. Rather there is more than one story. One of the most endearing characters is Chris Lynwood, who enters family business by default. His medical condition and his bond with his sister have sufficient emotional gravitas.

Yet vengeance remains the name of the game in this trade where the rules of the trade are thicker than blood. Blood flows un-brooked and the final shot, the key protagonists sandwiched amidst two dead-bodies, frames how those involved in this grimy business negotiate their way through the violent game. Drugs, you and me may believe is a zero-sum game. Yet it’s also cyclical and one that resets itself time and again from ‘zerozerozero’ to touch another high.

The open-ended finale does leave a possibility for yet another round of guns and gore. When and if that happens we shall certainly be looking forward to, whether Manuel can up his ruthless game any further and if the calculating Emma can continue to collaborate with him? For now you can enjoy the first season, which after a worldwide premiere on Amazon in March 2020 had its date with India only recently.Your attention might swerve at a few intervals and some of the surprises can be predicted beforehand. But much keeps you on tenterhooks.

Series: ZeroZeroZero 

Creators: Stefano Sollima, Leonardo Fasoli, Mauricio Katz

Cast: Harold Torres, Andrea Riseborough, Dane DeHaan, Adriano Chiaramida, Giuseppe De Domenico

Rating: ***



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