The Devil’s Advocate (1997) [REVIEW]

the devil's advocate movie poster al pacino keanu reeves


Ya know what’s pretty awkward? Watching The Devil’s Advocate with your mom. I mean, not the mom of whoever is reading this, because odds are I haven’t watched ANY movie with her, so I guess I should have specified MY mom. What’s even more awkward than seeing a movie with your mom (again, technically MY mom) would be seeing this movie with her IN THEATERS. There’s no escape! If there’s a sexy scene going on, you can’t get up and walk out like you’re going to the kitchen. You just need to sit there like an idiot! A few months ago, the podcast How Did This Get Made? had an episode about The Devil’s Advocate that reminded me how insane the movie was, and I figured I should revisit it. As if that wasn’t enough reason, I recently hosted a horror movie trivia night and when one round focused on movies with Satan, I threw a question in there about The Devil’s Advocate! Let’s just hope that this movie is as timeless as I remember and there isn’t anything that dates it, like, I don’t know, Delroy Lindo being in it or something.


the devil's advocate connie nielsen

No guys, even if your sister looks like Connie Nielsen, you should NOT sleep with her. Unless, of course, you want her to birth the Antichrist.

When Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) is able to prove he’s a hot shot lawyer by getting an accused child molester off, he’s offered the opportunity to work for a giant law firm in New York. This law firm is run by John Milton (Al Pacino), and John Milton is NOT the devil. Nope, no way. Kevin proves himself to be everything Milton hired him for, being able to clear charges on a guy who was practicing goddamned voodoo. All this time spent with his new job makes Kevin ignore his wife Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) who doesn’t seem to be adjusting all that well to this new lifestyle. Strange occurrences start happening to people who try to warn Kevin of just how much power Milton has, and Mary Ann’s frustrations turn to psychological issues and hallucinations that she’s institutionalized for, ultimately killing herself. Things seem to get even stranger when Kevin decides to confront Milton about everything that’s been going on and the streets of New York City are empty. When he finally confronts Milton, Milton reveals that he’s Satan and Kevin is his son. WAIT AL PACINO PLAYED SATAN? NO WAY. Satan then lets Kevin know that this whole plan was to get Kevin to have sex with his hot sister to create the Antichrist  with the only caveat being Kevin must agree of his own free will. Instead, Kevin shoots himself in the head and gets sucked into Hell or something. It doesn’t matter what actually happened, because that’s when Kevin looks up from the bathroom sink and realizes he’s still in court to defend the child molester! He has a change of heart and grants a reporter an exclusive interview who then shapeshifts into Al Pacino! NO KEVIN, YOU STILL FUCKED UP!



Yeah, I’d say this accurately sums up Pacino’s entire performance.

Rather than point out all of the ridiculously bad things about this movie, I’m going to direct you to the hilarious episode of How Did This Get Made? which does a much better job than I possibly could. The biggest problem with this movie is that the idea of “subtlety” got thrown out the window so early on that it’s like a goddamned cartoon. The first hour or so of the movie, I was actually invested in what was happening. The way they explored Kevin’s character, Mary Ann not having enough attention paid to her when she wants a baby, and having her character cut all of her hair off felt very similar to Rosemary’s Baby if it was being told from Guy’s perspective. About an hour in is a scene where Mary Ann is with a bunch of women while they’re changing and one of them reveals a demon face and from there it’s just madness. One character who tries to help Kevin is beaten to death by homeless people, which reminded me of the way Rosemary’s friend Hutch fell into a coma. Rather than taking the subtle route like happened with Rosemary’s Baby, everything is so over-the-top that there’s really no atmosphere built. Also, this movie was almost two and a half fucking hours, so had they decided to cut out all the stuff where they’re showing things that don’t need to be shown, or removed all the scenes where they were trying to establish Kevin’s corruption, the movie could have been a lot better. Add to that the bad acting on Keanu’s part juxtaposed with Pacino losing his goddamned mind, the whole thing feels uneven. As insane as Pacino’s performance was, it was still awesome to see him in a movie where the director was obviously saying, “Do that louder!” the entire time. I kind of enjoyed the idea of exploring characters who profit on setting guilty people free and the effect that might have on someone, but it also felt a little too easy to make Satan be a lawyer. I also wish that they had committed to the ending, because it would’ve meant Keanu Reeves was dead. If this movie wasn’t as long as it was, I’d at least recommend it for Pacino’s performance, but I’m sure you can find some sort of wacky mashup of it on YouTube anyway.


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One response to “The Devil’s Advocate (1997) [REVIEW]

  1. I don’t know, Liked the film, but I’m one of AL’s fans way back. think that the movie had that charm to it that many tried to reach but couldn’t. grt acting all the way around.

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