I remember The Devil’s Advocate as being a one of a kind, powerhouse of a movie when I first watched it when I was young and impressionable. In hindsight, it probably isn’t the greatest movie ever made, and the idea certainly isn’t new, but it’s still pretty darn good.
The Devil’s Advocate is about a young hot shot attorney named Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) who has never lost a case. When he is approached by John Milton (Al Pacino) to work at his New York law firm, he can’t help but accept, wooed by the lavish lifestyle and promises of power. When his beautiful wife, Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) becomes increasingly depressed and warns him that there are evil forces at work, Kevin has to decide between his aspirations of success and… everything else.
This is one of the last movies in which Al Pacino delivered a decent performance where he didn’t rely solely on yelling his lines (though there is quite a bit of yelling from him near the end). Most impressive, is a incredibly delivered and well written dialogue between him and Keanu Reeves at the climax. Speaking of which, Reeves delivered a surprisingly well rounded performance in this as well. Although his character is terribly self centred and ambitious, there’s still something about him that makes us want to see him succeed and we become more and more invested in his future as the movie goes on. Also, Charlize Theron. Enough said. Does she ever fail to impress? She’s so innocent and brave in this role that it’s nearly heart breaking to see her go through the hardships that she endures.
In regards to Reeves’ character, Kevin, the best thing about him is how relatable he is. Not in the directly literal way, but in that back of your mind, determined, ambitious part of yourself that won’t admit to what it would do for money, power or recognition, but is nonetheless there, kind of way. We all imagine ourselves to be righteous heroes; we all think that we are good people and that we would be able to ignore temptation if we were faced with it, but we don’t really know what we would do until we do it. The truth is, we don’t really know what we’re made of and this movie explores taking that dark path that leads to… well, eternal damnation. If you believe in that sort of thing.
The points that make this movie so good are unfortunately also it’s downfalls. It has such lofty ambitions and it’s trying so hard to get the message across that it comes across as pretty aggressively preachy. Also, movies like this don’t have very far to go from their climax, and this movie’s finale is a bit of a cop out compared to the stakes that were raised prior to it. The climax, which is a conversation between Pacino and Reeves, is so well written and such an interesting exchange that we feel slightly cheated by the end.
All that being said, it is definitely a movie that you have to see at least once. Maybe even twice. And there are a lot of genuinely scary moments and instances of pretty raw tension. The more I remember it, the more I recall how much I liked it. The performances are spot on and the script is very well written. The Devil’s Advocate is a must watch if you’re having a devil movie marathon and a great addition to Devil Week 2015. Watch it and let me know your thoughts!
For some other devilish review, check out my reviews of: