Film: Devil's Advocate

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Film:

Devil's Advocate

Director: Taylor Hackford
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Distributor: Warner Home Video

Too old for Hamlet and too young for Lear—what’s an ambitious actor to do? Play the Devil, of course. Jack Nicholson did it in The Witches of Eastwick; Robert De Niro did it in Angel Heart (as Louis Cyphre—get it?). In The Devil’s Advocate Al Pacino takes his turn as the great Satan, and clearly relishes his chance to raise hell. He’s a New York lawyer, of course, by the name of John Milton, who recruits a hotshot young Florida attorney (Keanu Reeves) to his firm and seduces him with tempting offers of power, sex, and money. Think of the…

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Too old for Hamlet and too young for Lear—what’s an ambitious actor to do? Play the Devil, of course. Jack Nicholson did it in The Witches of Eastwick; Robert De Niro did it in Angel Heart (as Louis Cyphre—get it?). In The Devil’s Advocate Al Pacino takes his turn as the great Satan, and clearly relishes his chance to raise hell. He’s a New York lawyer, of course, by the name of John Milton, who recruits a hotshot young Florida attorney (Keanu Reeves) to his firm and seduces him with tempting offers of power, sex, and money. Think of the story as a twist on John Grisham’s The Firm, with the corporate evil made even more explicit. Reeves is wooden, and therefore doesn’t seem to have much of a soul to lose, but he’s really just our excuse to meet the devil. Pacino’s the main attraction, gleefully showing off his—and the Antichrist’s—chops at perpetrating menace and mayhem. The film was directed by Taylor Hackford (Against All Odds, Dolores Claiborne), who provides alternate-track commentary for the movie itself, plus a dozen deleted scenes. Also note: due to a settlement with artist Frederick Hart over the movie’s use of a sculpture resembling his Ex Nihilo in Washington’s National Cathedral, future releases of the film will be altered. —Jim Emerson

Related Works

Book:The Devil's Advocate

The Devil's Advocate: A Novel

Andrew Neiderman

When Kevin Taylor joins the Manhattan criminal law firm of John Milton & Associates, he’s hit the big time. At last, he and his wife can enjoy the luxuries they’ve so desired — money, a chauffeur-driven limo, and a stunning home in a high-rise. Then Milton assigns Kevin one of the most notorious cases of the year, with a file that had been put together prior to the crime. Throwing himself into his work, Kevin begins to see a pattern of evil emerging from behind the firm’s plush facade. Acquittal after acquittal, every criminal client walks free, and Kevin’s suspicions slowly give way to terror. For Kevin has just become The Devil’s Advocate.

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