Devils Advocate

Devils Advocate

According to the director’s commentary, the version of The Devils Advocate that made it to the screen was the fifth complete re-write

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According to the director’s commentary, the version of this film that made it to the screen was the fifth complete re-write. The previous versions of this film were more alone the lines of a Friday night slasher flick than the intense psychological thriller that finally made it to the screen.

Devils Advocate opens with Kevin Lomax, a successful defense attorney in Florida. He is in the middle of defending a genuine creep, a teacher accused of molesting a young girl. Lomax wrestles with his conscience a few minutes before concluding to himself that winning was more important than helping a pervert go free. Success is it’s own reward to Lomax. He has it all down in Florida, a beautify wife Mary Ann, a condo, a good practice, still he jumps when he receives a chance to consult in New York City. He winds up working for John Milton, the senior partner of a very successful international law firm.

What occurs in Devils Advocate is a journey through a man’s decision between good and evil, between success in business and success in his marriage He finds a new meaning to the phrase Devil’s Advocate when he realizes almost too late that he is working for the Devil himself.

What really makes Devils Advocate work is the excellent cast. Keanu Reeves finally leaves the slacker roles behind and has begun to mature as a real actor. As Kevin Lomax he works hard at the little nuances that convince us that his character is changing inwardly as he seems to achieve everything he has ever dreamt about. Charlize Theron wonderfully plays his wife, Mary Ann. She has a dramatic control and range that is beyond her years. She also exhibits change throughout Devils Advocate but here the change is far more sinister and directed at her destruction. Then there is John Milton, played with more restraint than I though possible by Al Pacino. Pacino, know for his over the top performances goes the opposite route here. Rather than excess he portrays Milton as supremely confidant, a man that knows his own power and can state it tastefully. Pacino owes this role, he nails it better than any other actor possibly could have. Blended into this mix is a group of character actors that create a fully developed backstory. There is Judith Ivey as Lomax’s mother. She is a religious person of moral conviction. This provides a contrast with the Live life large Milton. Jeffery Jones plays the firm’s managing partner and brings his special flavor of talent to the table here.

The director Taylor Hackford may not be a household name yet but he is on his way. His last major vehicle was Dolores Claibourne, another tale of human emotions. Hackford uses the camera as a paintbrush, creating sets that can only be fully appreciated in this wide screen version. From the sweeping views of the streets of New York City to the contrasting habitats of Miltons stark office and lavish apartment, Hackford makes every shot worth the viewing. He also manages to keep the action in Devils Advocate moving and makes even the most expository scenes interesting.

The Devils Advocate disc itself is top shelf. The Dolby 5.1 sound enfolds you in the scene and transports you out of the confines of your living room. The musical score by James Newton Howard is there to help the store line, not overwhelm it. Full use of all six speakers is made with a good attention to the details of proper balance. The video transfer is excellent, even in scenes that transition from dark to light, a typical place that transfers fail. The Devils Advocate disc is full 1:2.35 aspect ration and is anamorphic. Extras include a detailed and interesting director’s commentary and ten minutes of deleted scenes explained by Hackford. Devils Advocate is a worth while addition to your collection.

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