Defending Jacob | Review
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, Jaeden Martell, Betty Gabriel, Pablo Schreiber, Cherry Jones, Sakina Jaffrey, J.K. Simmons
No of Episodes: 8
Available on: Apple TV+
Defending Jacob is a captivating thriller based on the best-selling novel. The limited series follows the investigation of a horrific crime which shakes up a Massachusetts town and turns the lives of one family in particular completely upside-down. Chris Evans portrays an assistant district attorney who is forced to choose between his job and his son.
"I’m here, because I believe in the system. I just want the truth to come out."
Released on April 24th, 2020, Defending Jacob follows the legal course of a murder case in which Jacob Barber(Jaeden Martell), a fourteen-year-old student living in Newton, Massachusetts is the primary suspect. The Apple TV+ mini-series is based on a best-selling novel by William Landay and follows the Barber family as Andy (Chris Evans) and Laurie (Michelle Dockery) construct a case to defend their son against a charge of first-degree murder.
Written by Mark Bomback, whose previous works include films such as Dawn of The Planet of The Apes and Die Hard 4.0, the series is a credit to an already strong collection of previous work! Bomback’s screenplay is brought to life effectively through the incredibly cast actors and by award-winning director Morten Tyldum, previously known for features including The Imitation Game and Passengers. Each crew member adds to the dark and eerie atmosphere that surrounds Defending Jacob and highlights the talent of each and every person involved in the series' production.
The show does an incredible job of creating a believable plot, the characters coming across as relatable despite the severity of the situation they find themselves in. Andy Barber’s involvement with the legality of the proceedings allows for an insight into the workings of law enforcement regarding the case, and the explanation of new advancements in both sides of the case to both Laurie and Jacob present these proceedings in a clear way to an audience who may otherwise not be familiar with them. There are also some incredibly potent lines in the series, some of which are included at the beginning and end of this review. The script has been extremely successful in conveying the internal war going on in Andy’s head, between his job and his son and highlights the relationship between him and Jacob well.
With an amazing cast of well-known actors, the characters are brought to life beautifully. Chris Evans, most recognised for his role as Captain America in the Marvel films portrays the role of a loving and protective father well and his clear chemistry with castmates Jaeden Martell and Michelle Dockery allowed for a believable family structure to be seen. Michelle Dockery’s portrayal of Laurie, a mother who was thrust into a situation that nobody could predict, covers the stress and disbelief of what is happening to her son, followed by her concern and struggle to deal with the publicity surrounding the case exquisitely. She creates a relatable character to many, despite the differences in the realities of their situation to many others. Jaeden Martell has also mastered the art of giving off the cold indifference his character, Jacob, needs to show at the same time as capturing the fear a child accused of crimes like this would feel which gives the characters a realistic feel.
Joanna Klein (Cherry Jones), Jacob’s defense lawyer has been a strong character throughout the entire series, but really comes into her own at the trial which takes place over the last two episodes. Cherry Jones does an incredible job of presenting Joanna as a professional and unshakable lawyer as well as a good friend and a caring person at the same time. She takes control of the trial during episode seven and the strength of her character is revealed even further. The addition of Cherry Jones was an outstanding casting decision and has really enhanced the already great series.
The combination of these main three characters really makes the show extraordinary and is only one of the many reasons why it was so highly received. Overall, Defending Jacob was an eerie and intense thriller which navigates the crime and the lives of those surrounding the accused well and is definitely worth watching if you haven't seen it already!
"Lawyers have boundaries. I don’t. Not anymore. My only job now is trying to protect our son. Whatever it takes."
Words by Chloe Pollard.
Trailer from YouTube - Apple TV.