Among the plethora of impressive TV series, Showtime’s Billions may have dipped under your radar but we’re here to give it more of what it deserves; an enormous wad of praise and recommendation to buy it when it’s released on DVD this Monday 21st November from Universal Pictures (UK). Created by Brian Koppelman, David Levien, and Andrew Ross Sorkin, it stars Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti in an impressive, commanding drama with dark comic elements as we immerse inside the world of high finance and power politics.
Lewis plays Bobby ‘Axe’ Axelrod, a hedge fund manager who has found a perfect balance between being deeply focused on success with tons of charisma. He’s a 9/11 survivor who ended up taking on the company Axe Capital because he was the only one left after the tragic circumstances of that day. He may not have asked for the opportunity but he’s undoubtedly taken it on to become a high achiever.
Giamatti plays Chuck Rhoades, a straight-down-the-line (and occasionally masochist) US attorney who wants everything done a certain way and will not be influenced by family connections of the past or even how other people have run things before. His wife Wendy (the tremendous Maggie Siff) is a no-nonsense M.D. and plays a high profile role as the psychiatrist and in-house performance coach at the company owned by Axe (Lewis), she’s extremely self-motivated and eager to challenge herself constantly.
So here’s where their lives begin to cross over, because while Wendy has known Axe for a long time, her husband’s job as US Attorney in New York means he’s always been suspicious of Axe’s company and how they’ve achieved so much so quickly. Chuck and Axe are on very different side of the political and financial spectrum, so while they both weld a lot of power is Axe Capital doing running its business 100% legally?
There’s a lot of smart energy and work going into Billions, from the analysis of certain financial markets and how they can improve, to Chuck’s deep desires to do everything above board and out in the open. While Axe moves forward and Chuck strives to make his mark, it’s clear that there’s a collision course coming and with two powerhouse actors in the lead roles, it’s deeply compelling and highly addictive to witness.
Also starring in the show is Malin Åkerman as Lara, Axe’s wife, who’s had a ‘normal’ up bringing but doesn’t hold back when it comes to being just as strong and to the point as everyone else involved. You also get to see fine performances from the likes of Toby Leonard Moore, David Costabile and Jerry O’Connell. Showtime, the TV network behind this one, have also offered up the likes of Californication, Nurse Jackie, Weeds, Dexter and The L Word so you know there’s little chance of holding back when it comes to what to expect in both the visual and intellect sense.
In Billions, you may not like everyone, but it’s an enjoyable no-holds-barred dive into the almost viciously committed, provocative world of finance and law and how they cross over. Think the updated House of Cards, which I also love, with added adrenaline. It also probably comes at a very opportune moment in history when we all know how people in power can, and do, take advantage of even the smallest opportunity. Giamatti and Lewis are beyond sublime, they’re somewhat intoxicating to watch and we highly, highly recommend either buying it on DVD here or downloading digitally.