Saturday, 29 April 2017

Devil's Advocate (4 Stars)

This is a film I've watched a few times over the years. I believe it was one of the first DVDs I ever bought, but surprisingly I haven't watched it since I started writing my blog in 2010. I'll make up for that now.

The film stars two actors that I don't rate highly. Neither Al Pacino nor Keanu Reeves particularly impresses me. Nevertheless, this is one of the few films in which Keanu Reeves is in his element. He plays a cold-hearted, emotionless lawyer. He's best in roles in which he doesn't need to show emotion. My problem with Al Pacino is that he doesn't seem genuine, his acting always makes him look like an actor rather than a real character. That works to his advantage in this film. His character is someone who's pretending to be something that he isn't.

Keanu Reeves plays Kevin Lomax, a Florida lawyer who has never lost a case. He specialises in defending clients who he knows are guilty. In our legal system everyone has the right to the best possible defence, but Kevin pushes it to the extreme. He has no conscience. He wants to succeed at all costs. This is displeasing to his mother, a devout Christian woman. His wife Mary Ann also dislikes it, but as long as her husband earns good money she accepts it.

Kevin is offered a job by John Milton (Al Pacino), the head of a multi-national company. It's not a law firm, it's a trading company, but it has shady business partners, so it hires lawyers to protect its partners from prosecution.

It's no spoiler to tell you that John Milton is really the Devil. That's obvious to the viewer from the film's name, and as if that's not enough the text on the back of the DVD case tells us that Kevin Lomax is working for the Devil. This isn't a story about a man being offered wealth in exchange for his soul. Kevin Lomax is no good man, he already gave up his soul by becoming a lawyer, and now the Devil is offering him his reward.

Al Pacino isn't quite as charismatic as Gabriel Byrne's portrayal of the Devil in "End of Days", but his performance still shines. He tries to justify himself with arguments to show that he isn't all bad, and God is the true cause of all the evil in the world. It's a perfect mixture of truth and lies that would fool most people who listen to him.

"Let me give you a little inside information about God. God likes to watch. He's a prankster. Think about it. He gives man instincts. He gives you this extraordinary gift, and then what does He do? I swear, for His own amusement, His own private, cosmic gag reel, He sets the rules in opposition. It's the goof of all time. Look, but don't touch. Touch, but don't taste. Taste, don't swallow. Ha ha ha! And while you're jumping from one foot to the next, what is He doing? He's laughing His sick ass off. He's a tight-ass! He's a sadist. He's an absentee landlord! Worship that? Never!"

Calling God an absentee landlord is like the pot calling the kettle black. We don't see God in the world, but where do we see the Devil? In God's absence he could do whatever he wants. He could create a false religion, verified by miracles, to lead mankind away from God. It would be so easy, so why doesn't he do it? The usual answer from the Christian churches is that the Devil doesn't need to lead people astray because they're already on the wrong path. The truth is that the Devil is an absentee enemy.

It was interesting to see Charlize Theron in this film. I'd forgotten that she was such a baby face when she started acting. She was 22 at the time "Devil's Advocate" was made, but she didn't look a day over 16. Even now, 20 years later, she's still one of the most beautiful women on the planet.

One of my friends told me that she considers this to be the scariest film she knows. I don't rate it quite that highly, but I understand what she means. The film has an intense atmosphere, laced with evil and supernatural elements. It doesn't rely on jumps the way modern horror films do, the scary scenes build up slowly and menacingly.

Watching the film today I realised that I've missed it. It's a film I need to watch again, maybe back to back with other portrayals of the Devil.

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One more thing. I thank whoever it was who ordered so many articles from Amazon in March using my links. I really appreciate it. It's no effort to you, but it makes money for me. Thank you. If all my readers did the same as you I would be rich.

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