Dirty Money: Season 1 – Review

Documentary series Dirty Money is now streaming on Netflix.

By Greg Wheeler

If Netflix’s previous eye-opening documentary Rotten was a proverbial punch to the gut, Dirty Money is a knock out punch to the jaw. Shocking, hard hitting episodes expose tales of greed and corruption rife in the world of capitalism and among high rollers in this 6 part documentary series. From Volkswagen deceiving consumers about carbon emissions to Donald Trump’s tumultuous, shady business deals, Dirty Money is a rollercoaster ride of deceit and shocking revelations rife within different organisations. Dirty Money raises some very difficult questions around the validity and authenticity of our justice system with one big question hanging over the series – are the super rich exempt from justice because of their wealth?

At a little over an hour for most episodes, Dirty Money dives deep into each individual case aiming to answer this very question. Each episode is gripping and methodically paced, combining a mixture of interviews and archival footage to paint a picture of each issue. For the most part, Dirty Money at least tries to be impartial on each issue with Payday the one example of this impartiality working well. Some episodes feel more one sided than others but with topics like money laundering and government corruption, it’s always a tough ask when the evidence is so insurmountable. With a different Director for each episode, there is a distinctly different tone and direction used in each episode to portray the cases but the hard hitting, incredulous reactions this documentary is likely to incite are consistent throughout. Most episodes are laid out in much the same way too; a brief introduction into the case is followed up with company history, archival footage, interviews with various figureheads and a series of official documents highlighted and showcased. This familiar format helps for continuity, especially with a different director filming and presenting the material in a different way across the 6 episodes.

Although most of the episodes have a long run time of around 70 minutes, almost all of them are gripping enough to forget about the run time. The thought provocative, informative way each is laid out makes Dirty Money an absorbing watch. Whether it be the extent of damage caused by Payday Loans, HSBC’s willing involvement money laundering with the Mexican Cartel or Donald Trump’s incredibly deceiving marketing, there’s a lot here to sink your teeth into. Of course, with a series like this there’s bound to be 1 or 2 episodes that don’t quite resonate as strongly as others and The Maple Syrup Incident is that episode for us. Although still engrossing, the upbeat tone, accentuated by the major key music that give off a sense of lighthearted mischief, acts as a stark contrast to the way the rest of the hard hitting episodes are presented.

The slickly presented episodes are incredibly absorbing and despite the long run time for each, never feel bloated or dragged out for the sake of it. There’s a lot to like here and the thought provocative, incredulous reaction this documentary series is likely to leave raises some serious questions around the justice system and accountability of big companies. There’s certainly enough here to whet the appetite for more seasons and with an ever evolving, ever vigilant world, Dirty Money is the perfect spotlight to showcase to unveil some of the corruption in our world today. This well made, technically adept documentary deserves praise for what it’s achieved here and Dirty Money might just be one of the best documentaries Netflix has made.

I give Dirty Money an A-.

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