Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Devil's Advocate (1997) Film Review
The Devil's Advocate
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
The devil has the best tunes, the best chat up lines, the best babes. And now he has the best law firm in New York. It is not fair. It is not a bundle of laughs, either. If you're Old Nick and can do anything (God's on a sabbatical in this one), why bother to go to work?
Al Pacino is John Milton (aka Satan). He wears black, travels by subway, shows off his new set of gnashers by smiling all the time and fancies himself as a sex machine. He lives above the shop in a penthouse overlooking the city. When asked, "Where's the bedroom?", he replies: "I don't sleep." Insomnia comes with the job.
Keanu Reeves is made to act for a change. He's married to Charlize Theron (ex-model from South Africa, who does more than take her top off) and he has a reputation of being the smartest defense attorney in Florida. He's called Kevin Lomax, which doesn't have the ring of Clarence Darrow somehow, but no matter. In court, he's tough on vulnerable witnesses, suffers a sense of humour failure and has never lost a case.
Milton dispatches a minion to entice Lomax to The Big Apple. Once there, he makes him an offer he can't refuse (sexy salary, posh apartment, high profile clients). Mary Anne (Mrs L) is a small town girl, who finds big spending and nothing to do a drag. She starts seeing things, scary things and tells Kevin, who hasn't time to listen.
Taylor Hackford needs lessons from The Witches Of Eastwick and Jacob's Ladder. A movie like this should be fun, or disturbing. To be neither means that two-and-a-half hours watching Reeves attempt a purposeful expression and Pacino play the diabolical charm card is a long time waiting for cheesy effects and naked bods.
As usual with the paranormal, it is easy to cheat. Milton, being The Big Bad One, can kill people miles away and manipulate just about any catastrophe. He has a personal reason for wanting Lomax in New York, which gives the finale a tweak. Otherwise, it is difficult to care what colour wallpaper Mary Anne choses or why phantom joggers haunt Central Park. To pretend that a middle-aged, vertically challenged lawyer controls life as we know it makes a nonsense of fate, choice and Mother Theresa. It makes a nonsense of The Devil's Advocate.Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001