The Devil's Advocate (1997) / Thriller-Horror
MPAA Rated: R for sexuality, nudity, violence and language
Running Time: 144 min.
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron, Jeffrey Jones, Judith Ivey, Connie Nielsen, Craig T. Nelson
Cameo: Don King, Delroy Lindo
Director: Taylor Hackford
Screenplay: Jonathan Lemkin, Tony Gilroy (based on the novel by Andrew Neiderman)
Review published March 16, 2000
Kevin Lomax (Reeves, Chain Reaction) is a young and highly successful defense attorney in a small Florida town. His impressive 64-0 record catches the eye of a New York law firm, perhaps the most powerful firm in the whole world. The money offered proves too good to be true and soon Kevin and his loving wife (Theron, 2 Days in the Valley) relocate to an extravagant apartment building owned and also lived in by the senior partner of the firm, John Milton (Pacino, Heat). The wiz attorney buries himself in his work while losing his connection to his wife, who is beginning to see frightening visions of demonic proportions.
The Devil's Advocate is a very watchable but highly flawed film that definitely delivers on flash while offering little substance. Bolstered by the excellent Pacino, the film does a fair job in retaining credibility, even amid the farfetched goings on. But while Pacino is unquestionably fine in his role, the same can't be said for rest of the cast, including the star of the film Keanu Reeves.
Perhaps the film's main detraction comes from the fact that it seems to have no rules. The plot darts from place to place, and when the final plot is revealed, it makes no sense at all. This is often the problem of films where the villain is omnipotent -- why concoct elaborate schemes when you can do whatever you want?
The hole in the bathroom wall isn't the only hole in the film, as plot holes galore permeate the production. The highly dressed nonsense never fails to titillate, but no amount of production values can cover up the fact that it's a poorly executed vehicle from an intriguing idea (based on the book by Andrew Neiderman).
The Devil's Advocate has its moments, especially when Pacino is onscreen, but its premise is skillfully built with a house of cards that has no bottom tier.
©2000 Vince Leo