Critics Have Seen Jake Gyllenhaal’s Presumed Innocent, And They’ve Reached A Verdict On The Streaming Legal Thriller Series

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in Apple TV+'s Presumed Innocent.
(Image credit: Apple TV+)

It’s the year of the remake for Jake Gyllenhaal, who starred in the updated version of the ‘80s classic Road House earlier in 2024 and now will take on a role previously played by Harrison Ford more than 30 years ago. The new project — Apple TV+’s Presumed Innocent — also shows an evolution in the actor’s career, as the legal thriller will serve as his Gyllenhaal’s first major TV role. Critics have had the opportunity to screen the first seven episodes of the eight-part miniseries, which premieres on June 12, and the verdict on the new David E. Kelley project is overwhelmingly positive.

Presumed Innocent is a remake of the 1990 movie starring Harrison Ford, but it’s also an adaptation of the novel of the same name. Jake Gyllenhaal will play Chicago prosecutor Rusty Sabich, who becomes the primary suspect in the murder of one of his colleagues. He must go to extreme lengths to prove he didn’t do it. Aramide Tinubu of Variety credits Gyllenhaal’s performance in making Presumed Innocent “one of the best legal thrillers to arrive on television in years.” Tinubu continues: 

Presumed Innocent soars because the audience is never quite sure what to make of Rusty. He is highly affable one moment and borderline narcissistic the next, leaving both his sincerity and his innocence perpetually up for debate. Moreover, several brilliant twists keep the viewer from getting too comfortable. From the start, Gyllenhaal portrays Rusty as an enigma —whether he is experiencing guilt, shame or both is to be determined.

Emma Kiely of Collider agrees the performances are stellar, and she points out that knowing how the movie ended does not ruin the experience of watching the series. (Critics did not see the final episode of Presumed Innocent and do not know how or if the ending differs in this miniseries.) Kiely calls it “one of the standout television shows of the year,” rating the series a 9 out of 10: 

Apple TV+'s Presumed Innocent takes the basics of the book and movie, updates them, and expands on all the themes and ideas that couldn’t make it into a film’s runtime. On the surface, this is a show about a grisly murder, a sexy affair, and some legal proceedings to boot. Look further, and you will see one of the most refreshing takedowns of male ego on recent television. The shadow of Succession is strong in today’s small-screen climate, but trust showrunner David E. Kelley to be the ideal person to spearhead a show that looks at the reprehensibility of men.

Akos Peterbencze of Looper gives it a 7.5 out of 10, also crediting the actors — the supporting cast is just as impressive as Jake Gyllenhaal, if not more, the critic says — as well as the gripping, suspenseful atmosphere and some wild cliffhangers to keep audiences intrigued. It can therefore be forgiven for a somewhat slow first episode and a few clichés. Peterbencze writes:  

As the eight episodes unfold — from which seven were provided for review — the nearly four-decade-old source material proves just as effective as it was back in the late '80s. With its moderate pace, the pilot solely serves as the calm before the storm, but once we're brought up to speed with the case's details, the characters' relationships, and the power dynamics inside the office, Presumed Innocent unravels as a scandalous thriller and a pulpy domestic drama with unstoppable force.

Dave Nemetz of TVLine grades the Apple TV+ series an A-, saying that a courtroom thriller from David E. Kelley is already must-watch material, before you even throw in its impressive cast. Presumed Innocent is sleek and riveting, Nemetz says: 

Kelley is the secret ingredient that makes this work, though. He shows here why he’s a virtuoso of the genre, crafting killer cliffhangers and delivering big courtroom fireworks. The show artfully zeroes in on little moments and gestures, too. … There is a late plot twist that strains plausibility, but Presumed Innocent knows its job and does it well, keeping us guessing about Rusty’s innocence to the very end. It’s honestly a credit to the series that I’ve seen all but the final episode, and I still don’t know whether Rusty did it or not. It’s the TV equivalent of an addictive page-turner… and it leaves us dying to get to the last page.

Lauren Milici of GamesRadar agrees with the above assessments as far as the performances given, though the critic thinks some parts are a bit underdeveloped, particularly when it comes to the character of Carolyn (Renate Reinsve). Milici rates the series 3 out of 5 stars, writing: 

While Presumed Innocent ultimately fails to make a case for why a modern-day adaptation was necessary in the first place, it's still worth a watch if only for the absolutely out-of-this-world ensemble cast. If anything, it's a show about how one big bad decision snowballs into the worst possible scenario, and how everyone decides to cope (or not). Come for Jake, stay for Ruth Negga and Peter Sarsgaard, and pick up a copy of the novel afterward.

If you’re a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal, David E. Kelley or just twisty legal dramas in general, Presumed Innocent sounds like a series you might want to fire up the Apple TV+ subscription for. The first two episodes will be available to stream on June 12, with one episode dropping each Wednesday thereafter. Also be sure to see what other shows are premiering soon with our 2024 TV schedule

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.