The Devil's Advocate

In middle and high school, I would rent horror movies almost every weekend.  I'm ashamed to disseminate this for public consumption, but I would base half of my rental choices on which films might contain nudity.  Good God.  Please tell me I wasn't the only one.  I'm pretty sure I wasn't, but I'm not proud of my past as a teenage boy.  Ugh.  Were we even human?  Anyhow, I bring up my licentious lunacy to form a trestle to 1997's The Devil's Advocate.  I had a feeling that it contained boobage.  And it does.  For some unidentified reason, I would always pass it up.  Looking back, I think the title's posture as a major studio grabber turned me off.

Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, Al Pacino as Satan...that's serious cachet.  I was green.  I didn't see how an "a-movie" could be a cool, genuine horror treat.  Of course, commercials told us that The Devil's Advocate was a thriller, but we knew better.  Reeves plays Kevin, a cut-throat attorney scaling the corporate ladder at a meteoric pace.  He finds himself in the big city (New York, what else?) working at a big firm.  Pacino plays John Milton (a little on-the-nose), Kevin's boss.  This guy speaks every language and seems to know everything.  He's also a bit of a playboy and enjoys the finer...er, details of ornamental...um, the sublime FUCK.  He likes to fuck.  With his dick.

Gradually, Kevin is lured into a cycle of sin.  One of the few problems handicapping The Devil's Advocate is the obvious nature of the story's selling point.  You can blame the advertising.  It's just plain to see that Milton is The Morning Star.  In spite of this hindrance, the narrative has a nice flow to it.  With the exception of the final half-hour, this courtroom curtain caper flies by with the latitude of an aphid.  Man, that sentence was a mess.  You know what I'm trying to say.  Personally, I never felt the weight of the 144-minute running time.  Until the conclusion, that is.  As I alluded to earlier, Advocate doesn't know when to go home.  I could easily shave 20 minutes off of the third act.

There are other deterrents.  The CGI is outdated, for one.  Still, I dug this demonic edict.  It doesn't really need to be asserted, but the cast is exquisite.  Reeves actually emotes.  One scene in particular (that I won't spoil) is exceedingly heartrending.  Pacino is motherfucking Pacino.  He can steal a moment, but he also knows when to pull back a hair.  I was most impressed by Charlize Theron's manifold performance.  At first, her turn of Mary Ann comes off as thin and one-dimensional, but you quickly realize that was the point.  Her downward spiral is harrowing stuff.

There are flaws, but I highly recommend The Devil's Advocate.  Pacino is back!  A thrilling time at the movies!  Watch out, Oscar season!  I almost dropped my popcorn!  Rabble, rabble!  Derp!

No comments:

Post a Comment