Legal drama, thrillingly retold
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Legal drama, thrillingly retold

Jake Gyllenhaal and Renate Reinsve in Presumed Innocent. (Photo © Apple TV+)
Jake Gyllenhaal and Renate Reinsve in Presumed Innocent. (Photo © Apple TV+)

Remember the 90s thriller film Presumed Innocent starring Harrison Ford as a lawyer investigating the murder of a colleague? Now, the classic story based on a novel by Scott Turow is getting a television version. The first two episodes have already dropped on Apple TV+, with new episodes releasing weekly until the finale on July 24. This adaptation of Turow's novel is filled with dynamic and dramatic moments, but can it accurately capture the mystery that drives the story?

Presumed Innocent tells the tale of a horrific murder that upends the Chicago prosecutors office when one of its own is suspected of the crime. Multi-Emmy Award-winning writer David Kelley reimagines Presumed Innocent, exploring themes of obsession, sex, politics, and the power and limits of love as the accused fights to hold his family and marriage together.

With its whodunit element, the series does an impressive job of obscuring the real killer's identity. After watching the show, I now have seven solid suspects, each of whom I could make a strong case for being guilty. Each episode fills in more details of the crime, but also gives us incredible insight into the characters. We learn about their mindset and conflicts, all of which serve as potential motivation. Each time I thought I could eliminate someone from my list, the story introduced new elements of doubt.

Jake Gyllenhaal is wonderful as Rusty Sabich, the character once portrayed by Harrison Ford. He brings ferocity, and we see passion and extreme focus in his eyes, making it difficult to discern what he's thinking.

He's explosive, even scary at times, which keeps everyone else on edge. Rusty is also a very cold and unsympathetic character, and the way he's written and portrayed makes it difficult to really get behind him.

Bill Camp plays the role of Raymond Horgan, Rusty's boss and friend. He has a wonderful mix of compassion and snark, always stealing the show in every scene. He comes across as someone with a caring demeanour, but also someone who's not afraid to fight when there's a threat. His relationship with Rusty is caustic at times but surprisingly still filled with respect and regard, and Camp plays grumpy convincingly.

There are a handful of supporting actors who are all great as well, building on the list of not only potential suspects but those adversely affected by the crime and the trial. We get some wonderful emotive sequences from the supporting cast, showcasing heartbreak, devastation, fury and disappointment. These interactions make the series more engaging and keep us emotionally invested.

What sets Presumed Innocent apart is its ability to maintain a perfect balance between intricate plot development and profound character exploration. It's rare to find a series that so deftly combines the thrill of a legal drama with the emotional depth of a character study.

Much of the show's first half focuses on the investigation and discovery of clues, while the latter half dives into the court case. Both parts are riveting in their own ways, allowing us to gain huge insights into each of the characters. This is where a lot of the misdirection -- or at least doubt -- comes into play.

There are numerous flashbacks, and sometimes they're jumbled and super quick, not really allowing us the time to fully grasp what's going on. Other flashbacks, however, are shown with a good deal of patience, allowing us to hear conversations and watch actions so we can better understand what happened in context.

While the series may feel a bit drawn out in telling this mystery through multiple episodes, I found it riveting and didn't feel like we were getting information rehashed unnecessarily. Some flashbacks are repeated, but these are typically framed in a different context each time, allowing us to see new perspectives. This technique works towards solving the crime but also creates new layers of doubt. After just the first two episodes, you're likely to be hooked.

  • Presumed Innocent
  • Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Ruth Negga, Bill Camp
  • Created by David E. Kelley
  • Now streaming on Apple TV+
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