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Devil's Advocate
3 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Taylor Hackford

Written By:
Tony Gilroy, Jonathan Lemkin

Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Judith Ivey, Craig T. Nelson, Jeffrey Jones, Connie Nielsen, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Debra Monk, Tamara Tunie, Vyto Ruginis, Laura Harrington, Pamela Gray, Heather Matarazzo, Delroy Lindo

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Devil's Advocate (1997)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
July 28th, 2007

'The Devil's Advocate' places Satan as the head of a law firm in New York City, and names him John Milton (after the author of a poem about man's expulsion from the Garden of Eden), and gives him a young married couple to tempt, corrupt and defile. All in all, it is not terribly subtle, but is remarkably entertaining, and incredibly stylish, filled with stunning visual effects, and a compelling story. Kevin Lomax (Reeves) is a hotshot attorney in Florida, who never loses a case, and after gaining an acquittal for a teacher suspected of molesting one of his students, he is approached by a representative from Milton's firm, who offers him a prestigious position, with a huge salary.

He and his wife Mary Ann (Theron) head to New York and move into a upscale apartment, where they befriend Kevin's new colleagues, and meet the charismatic Milton (Pacino), who apparently never sleeps and can speak Chinese, Spanish, and probably every other language. We know who (or rather, what) Milton really is, but Kevin doesn't find out for more than two hours, after he has defended two more high-profile clients, one of them (Delroy Lindo) a warlock of sorts who is accused of slaughtering an animal as a religious sacrifice, the other a prominent contractor (Craig T Nelson), accused of murdering his wife and children.

Kevin, of course, wins, and fails to realize that Milton may have something to do with that, as both men are guilty, and the evidence against them is overwhelming. Mary Ann gets some female friends, who also work for Milton, and starts to see them as the demons they really are, which causes her to lose her mind. Kevin's bible-thumping mother (Judith Ivey) shows up towards the end to reveal a secret to him, one that leads to the delicious finale, where Pacino, in one of the best monologues in film history, talks about himself, God, and human nature with such manic energy, one almost expects him to suffer a heart attack. This is one of Pacino's best performances.

No one has played the Devil better than he, though Jack Nicholson and Max von Sydow come close. He is over-the-top and proud of it, seductive, charming, evil, and mischievous, as Lucifer (if he really existed) most likely would be. Reeves is surprisingly effective, and handles emotional scenes well, though his southern accent is wildly inconsistent. Theron is amazing, especially as her character undergoes a psychological breakdown, always convincing in various stages of insanity. The film also benefits from great music, evocative and bold, with large sweeping orchestrations that perfectly match the movie's overall atmosphere.

I also like how the passage of time is shown by speeding things up, with clouds moving quickly overhead, day becoming night in a matter of seconds, sort of like what prophecy pimps expect to happen with the Second Coming. A bit overlong, and the courtroom drama does not mesh well with the supernatural stuff, in my view, and there are moments of meandering melodrama , but it is technically accomplished and extremely enjoyable, mostly because of Pacino.

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