The Devil's Advocate

1997, Movie, R, 140 mins

Review

DEVIL'S ADVOCATE, THE
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Were you thinking it was about time for another OMEN movie? Well, someone was. That said, this supremely silly supernatural potboiler is slickly entertaining for just under two hours and absolutely hilarious for 10 minutes near the end, when Al Pacino finally gets to strut his demonic stuff full-throttle. Hot shot Florida lawyer Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) gets head-hunted by prestigious New York law firm Milton, Chadwick and Waters, and, ignoring his deeply religious mom (Judith Ivey) -- a preacher's daughter who warns that Manhattan is the Devil's playground -- hightails it to sin city with his good-time girl wife, Mary Ann (Charlize Theron). Taken under the wing of the firm's mercurial, charismatic and forebodingly named founder, John Milton (Al Pacino), Kevin thrives: He takes on morally dubious high-profile cases and triumphs, learns to love the dissolutely sophisticated nightlife and even starts smoking again. Surrounded by predatory party girls, Mary Ann -- a small-town gal at heart -- becomes increasingly high-strung and withdrawn. Glossy production design and comic-book metaphysics notwithstanding, there'd be nothing here without Pacino. He appears to be having the time of his life: Chortling, capering and committing random acts of unkindness with showstopping glee, Pacino is a bantamweight Beelezebub with a stand-up comic's timing. He's nothing short of hilarious, and his performance looks to be about three-quarters calculation and one-quarter sheer, unbridled looniness. The lanky, liquid-eyed Reeves -- in long shot, he's a greyhound to Pacino's ankle-biting terrier -- more or less holds his own, but Charlize Theron is the movie's secret weapon. Surrounded by wiggy supernatural hijinks, she gives Mary Ann's nervous breakdown real poignancy and bite. Ignore the cheap twist at the end, and make note: New York really is a helluva town. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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