Skip to Content

‘Presumed Innocent’ suits up Jake Gyllenhaal for a pulpy courtroom drama

<i>Apple TV+ via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Jake Gyllenhaal and Renate Reinsve in
Apple TV+ via CNN Newsource
Jake Gyllenhaal and Renate Reinsve in "Presumed Innocent

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

(CNN) — Bearing little resemblance to the 1990 movie starring Harrison Ford, “Presumed Innocent” has become an Apple TV+ limited series with an old-fashioned, pulpy feel – “old-fashioned” in the way classic courtroom dramas incorporated dramatic flourishes that would never, ever happen in a real trial. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the accused prosecutor, in a show that works strictly as a check-your-brain-at-the-courthouse-steps exercise.

Filled with florid characters and overheated situations, writer David E. Kelley (whose credits include lots of legal dramas dating back to “L.A. Law”) teams up with producer J.J. Abrams on this adaptation of Scott Turow’s book, which capitalizes on the eight-episode format to take a longer time (too long, frankly) before getting into the courtroom.

Mostly, that provides opportunities to get to know Rusty Sabich (Gyllenhaal, having moved into pass-the-popcorn mode between this and “Road House”) and his family dynamics in a deeper way, before he’s thrown into a tailspin when accused of murdering colleague Carolyn Polhemus (Norwegian star Renate Reinsve), with whom he was having an affair and, by his own admission, obsessed.

Rusty’s wife, Barbara (Ruth Negga), doesn’t believe he killed her, but the case drags his infidelity into public view and essentially rubs her nose in it, with plenty of flashbacks of their steamy illicit trysts to put an exclamation point on that because, hey, streaming.

Other than Gyllenhaal, whose take on Rusty is decidedly less sympathetic than Ford’s was (albeit with a better haircut, although the rest of the movie feels superior), everyone else appears to be working off cue cards that say “DO IT BIGGER.” That includes Negga as the wounded wife; Gyllenhaal’s real-life brother-in-law, Peter Sarsgaard, as the prosecutor, Tommy Molto, champing at the bit to convict Rusty; and Bill Camp as Raymond Horgan, the former boss who agrees to defend him.

Notably, that tonal criticism also applies to Kelley’s other recent drama based on a novel, Netflix’s “A Man in Full,” which, in both cases, somewhat neutralizes an impressive cast.

“Presumed Innocent” nevertheless proves watchable despite – and for some, surely, because of – its excesses. Apple made seven of the eight episodes available, so how this version handles the twisty ending remains to be seen, though it’s fair to say the production takes a few liberties up until that point.

“This is nuts,” Rusty’s teenage daughter says as suspicion falls upon her dad, which makes her sound both like a legal analyst, at least in the context of this trial, and an astute TV critic.

“Presumed Innocent” does have its moments, but in terms of making a case for committing to sit through eight chapters, Kelley, Gyllenhaal and company haven’t exactly put together an open-and-shut case.

“Presumed Innocent” premieres June 12 on Apple TV+.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Entertainment

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


News Channel 3 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content