Presumed Innocent review: David E. Kelley strikes gold in the courtroom again

David E. Kelley adapted the novel Presumed Innocent into a series for Apple TV+, now streaming on the platform, starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
Presumed Innocent - credit: Apple TV+
Presumed Innocent - credit: Apple TV+ /

Scott Turow's novel Presumed Innocent, starring Harrison Ford, hit theaters in 1987. Fast-forward over thirty years, and Emmy Award-winning writer David E. Kelly is adapting the book into a series for Apple TV+ with the same name. Presumed Innocent stars two Academy Award-nominated actors, Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Negga.

Presumed Innocent follows the story of Chicago Prosecutor Rusty Sabich (Gyllenhaal), who finds himself as a suspect in a brutal murder. Rusty must face the allegations against him while also fighting to keep his family, as the woman he is accused of murdering was his mistress.

We've seen a master class of work by David E. Kelley throughout the years, especially in courtroom dramas with series like The Practice, Ally McBeal, and Boston Public. So it wasn't much of a surprise that Presumed Innocent keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout each episode. Kelley's ability to elevate each episode with new pieces to allow the audience to determine whether or not Rusty murdered his mistress was brilliant.

Casting, casting, casting, my goodness, does this show have heavy hitters from top to bottom? Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the best working actors who challenges himself in each role to raise his own bar and the bar for that opposite of him. Gyllenhaal plays a frantic man fighting for his life so diligently that you are guessing whether or not Rusty did the crime.

Opposite Gyllenhaal in the courtroom is his predecessor and prosecutor, Tommy Molto, played by Peter Sarsgaard. Funny enough, Sarsgaard is Gyllenhaal's real-life brother-in-law, but these two go toe to toe in a knockdown drag-out fight, showcasing just how great Sarsgaard and Gyllenhaal are. Ruth Negga, who was in charge of being the glue that holds this series together as Barbara, Rusty's wife, doesn't get nearly the credit she deserves for her continued masterful work.

Presumed Innocent episode 2 /

I understand that people are starting to veer more and more away from the world of weekly television, but Presumed Innocent plays out like a page-turning book that makes you want more. If you watch this series, you will be invested in that weekly format, talking amongst your friends to dissect what is happening and whose side you are really on.

Overall, if you haven't figured it out by now, I loved Presumed Innocent and believe it is one of the best shows of 2024. It has the perfect balance of fantastic writing, acting, and intense courtroom chess matchups that add to a must-watch series. Gyllenhaal's work within Rusty should result in him being talked about in the Emmy conversation next award season. Put this series at the top of your watch list.

The first two episodes of Presumed Innocent are available on Apple TV+.

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