J.’s Short Movie Reviews: The Devil’s Advocate (1997)

The Devil’s Advocate is what happens when you mix your Law & Order with your Exorcist and a side of Thirtysomething.
This is sometimes intriguing but it can’t hold your attention long enough because of the constantly competing perspectives/genres.

The performances aren’t that great. Keanu Reeves is flat and totally unbelievable as a legal wunderkind. Al Pacino is essentially playing a parody of himself from other work (specifically, Scent of a Woman). Even the always-hotter-than-the-sun Charlize Theron can’t save this though her descent into insanity and self-destruction is the one compelling piece of the otherwise jumbled puzzle. Craig T. Nelson and Jeffrey Jones playing sleazebags is somewhat novel but their isn’t enough time really spent with them to invest in their characters.

It’s not all on the actors though. This plot does them no favors. On some level, this movie wants to be a religious horror, suspenseful legal drama, a complicated relationship story, and a commentary on ideas of free will and man’s relationship with the world and with a Creator. Unfortunately, the film’s restrictive format keep it from being much more than a jumbled mess.

I feel like this would be a compelling show on something like FX or HBO where you can take “risks” not necessarily suitable for primetime cable. That way the vacillating storyline can build momentum and when it all crashes together in the ending, it won’t feel as perfunctory. This movie introduces way too much “new” information at the end of the third act for the ending to be remotely satisfying. It just sort of ends and then the coda scene where “it’s all a dream” (or was it?) is totally misplaced.

RATING: Day-old Medium Popcorn – Besides Theron’s performance, this one just doesn’t hold much water because there’s too much going to be satisfied in a two-hour running time. It’s an interesting idea but it is executed in a mediocre fashion.

What do you think about The Devil’s Advocate?

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