Defending Jacob Review: Chris Evans’ finest performance deserved to be a movie rather than a miniseries
Defending Jacob Review: The storyline, with the various twists and turns, had loopholes and felt monotonous. That being said, if you want to see Chris Evans at his finest, Defending Jacob is just what the doctor ordered! Read the full review below.
Written By Karishma Shetty 132782 reads Mumbai Updated: April 24, 2020 11:07 pm
Directed by Morten Tyldum, Defending Jacob stars Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery and Jaeden Martell.Directed by Morten Tyldum, Defending Jacob stars Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery and Jaeden Martell.
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Defending Jacob Cast: Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, Jaeden Martell
Defending Jacob Director: Morten Tyldum
Defending Jacob Stars: 3.5/5
Given his scene-stealing act in 2019’s surprise hit Knives Out, one can see that Chris Evans is steering clear of his Captain America image (it’s become synonymous with the actor at this point!) and delving into deeper, darker characters. With Defending Jacob, Chris’ mindset is clear; ditch the red, white and blue uniform and replace it with a suit and tie. The question to ask is the gamble Evans takes worth it and does Defending Jacob beat the odds and deliver an exhilarating murder-mystery cum family drama? For that, read below!
Pinkvilla was the lucky one amongst the few who got a chance to watch all the eight episodes of the Apple TV+ miniseries, ahead of time, to dissect it for our readers. For the unversed, Defending Jacob is based on William Landay’s novel of the same. A suburban family, whose life seems picture perfect on the surface is hit when Andy Barber (Chris Evans) and Laurie Barber’s (Michelle Dockery) teenage son Jacob Barber (Jaeden Martell) is framed for the murder of his classmate, who used to bully him. What makes the case more complicated was that Andy was the district attorney in charge of the case before his son was made the primary suspect.
As the episodes progress, we see the dismantling of the perfect family reputation set by the Barber’s as they crumble under the pressure of being loyal parents or ethical human beings. While Andy goes through a few illegal ways to get to the truth and is in the constant illusion of his son being innocent, Laurie suffers a Lady Macbeth type breakdown, skeptical about Jacob being guilty or not. It doesn’t help her mindset when Jacob’s mannerisms are the perfect definition of the reclusive and aggressive teenager with repressed emotions.
With all eyes on Mr. Evans, the actor’s approach to Andy is a more subtle, precarious manner and molds perfectly, when it comes to the balance between being the man of the house and his moral duties. While everything and everyone, including Laurie, crumbles around him, Chris’ conviction as Andy doesn’t falter, untill the very end. We’re used to the larger than life Steve Rogers and seeing the paradigm shift in Evans through Defending Jacob is definitely a welcome surprise. Michelle hits it out of the park as a conflicted mother of a teenage son who could be guilty of murder. Dockery’s emotional outbursts are heartbreaking to watch and will make parents question themselves – If my child committed treason, would I support him/her no matter what? Is the love for my child greater than my moral virtues? While Andy is on the hunt for the actual murderer, we see the descent to madness in Laurie. Every time there is a ray of hope, like when Laurie gets mildly excited and pumped up for the Fourth of July celebrations, she gets the ill-treatment from the victim’s mother, it gets crushed completely.
As good as Chris and Michelle were in their individual performances, their chemistry as a married couple felt flat. We could connect to them as parents but never as husband and wife. Jaeden’s sequestered act Jacob was a commendable performance as he kept us at the edge of our toes wondering if he was infact guilty or not.
When it comes to the storyline, with the variations in the timeline and the constant twists and turns, the murder mystery evolves almost at a snail’s pace instead of the potential grittiness one could have gotten if the duration was, say, 60-80 minutes. Yes, Defending Jacob would have had a crisper edge to its name if it were made into a movie rather than a miniseries. While the lead trio added the right weightage to make this a one-time watch, Morten Tyldum’s direction often felt shoddy at times. Without giving out any spoilers, the ending may leave many enraged as the answers we were looking for were given the complacent “It is what it is” treatment.