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The Devil's Advocate

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Devil's Advocate

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino
Director: Taylor Hackford
Rated: R
RunTime: 144 Minutes
Release Date: October 1997
Genres: Horror, Suspense, Thriller

*Also starring: Charlize Theron, Jeffrey Jones, Judith Ivey, Craig T. Nelson, Tamara Tunie, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Debra Monk, Vyto Ruginis

Review by Walter Frith
2½ stars out of 4

Of all the notable actors who have portrayed Satan in the last decade or so, among them Jack Nicholson in 'The Witches of Eastwick' (1987) and Robert De Niro in 'Angel Heart' (1987), none have captured the charismatic style quite like Al Pacino has in 'The Devil's Advocate'. The latest film from director Taylor Hackford ('Dolores Claiborne', 'An Officer and a Gentleman', 'Against All Odds') uses conscience as a metaphor to tell an old fashioned morality tale that avoids using cliches to transmit its dreamy message of morality. It uses each scene as a carefully thought out stepping stone to reveal its real intentions late in its running time of 141 minutes. Not always on target but never boring, the audience is given clues to the film's resolution in leading up to its chilling climax enhanced with some of the most mind twisting visuals seen on film this year.

Keanu Reeves is a young, ambitious and talented defense attorney in Florida who has never lost in over 60 cases he's been associated with and upon representing one client whom everyone believes will be convicted, Reeves gets him off and meets a representative from a New York City law firm who has been scouting his talents and persuades him to travel to Manhattan with all expenses paid to meet the firm's mentor (Pacino) in an attempt to obtain his services. Reeves agrees and along with his wife (Charlize Theron), they are introduced to a world which seems alien to them but the goodies seem to attractive to resist. As the film progresses there is a feeling that something is not quite right in their lives and the wife wants to leave. Reeves tells her that his career is going well and that leaving is out of the question.

The first thing that should be said about this film is noting the progression of Keanu Reeves as an actor of some merit. Although his southern accent is sometimes used inconsistantly in the movie, he holds his own for the most part with any other actor in the picture and is totally convincing as a fiery lawyer. He is the reason the courtroom sequences in the film are so pleasantly executed and director Taylor Hackford has extracted a complex and multi dimensional performance from Reeves. As for Pacino, what can you say about an actor who has triumphed at every role he's ever played. Even in his films that have bombed in both a critical and financial manner, Pacino always burns up the screen with his authoritative manner and disciplined command of character. Portraying Satan is another triumph for Pacino who delivers a sly and slightly over the top performance.

If you are turned off by movies which deal heavily in explicit and supernatural gore and violence and are offended by openly sexual scenes and nudity then 'The Devil's Advocate' should be avoided because the film is shockingly explicit on all of these counts but for others it will scorch your senses with an original twist but it has an ending which may leave you cold and unconvinced but it's still a good ride most of the way.

Copyright 1997 Walter Frith

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