Most surprising to me was the tone I suppose. In the early going I realize they were trying to cram alot of exposition in, and very tread-worn exposition at that, but the cursory, perfunctory zip-toe-through-the-disillusionment pace lap seemed to set the stage for severe gravity deficiency. I wasn't feelin Woods' shock or torment or soul searching.
Now grant we have seen this salvation conversion any number of times -- THE VERDICT comes to mind: promising career aborted in self-sustained alcoholic immolation, last-gasp chance for redemption presents in the form of a noble cause to be fought -- so perhaps the mind set was to blast past it, but in the process, I think a tone of superficiality and lightweight artifice invaded and remained through this debut.
One specific of this was the critical pivotal of Woods striding confidently into something uncertain. Someone is dead; suspect in adjoining room. Reveal to man flanked by two suits on a swivel stool. He whirls to intone: "Boys, this is my lawyer, might as well release me now," (or words to that effect). Cut to reaction shot. Woods turns his back on defense.
Very slick, surface.....and ultimately uncompelling.
We start to see some of the wit and zing we expect when Woods lays down the Shark diet regimen for his minnow minions and the followup of the somewhat contrived trouncing of an upstart in mock cross. Even the inevitable courtroom confrontation with the defendant picked up a little Woods heat in spite being rewarmed from the pages of the Perry Mason primer AMBUSH ANGLES EQUALS SUDDEN SHOCKING VERDICT TURN, but none of it had the really tasty multi-layered appeal of a good Sorkin-penned dialogue tapestry and one wonders what attracted Woods to this particular project -- sounds like it could be right, but then there's the execution.
In general in was well-crafted and thought out and unfolded pretty smoothly. I LOVED that the Woods/ex-spouse relationship was blissfully rancor free, the daughter was underplayed with some thoughtfulness and verisimilitude -- very, very rare and should be applauded whenever, wherever it occurs.
Yet somehow the whole effect was less like a meal of tuna chunks and more like a plankton soup with tidbits of half-eaten leftover flotsam thrown in.................