FILM REVIEW: A devil of a juicy watch
Doing the rounds of movies channels on SkyTV is 1997 horror/drama Devil’s Advocate, one of Al Pacino’s most endearing and devil-may-care performances.
As the unsubtly named John Milton, head of a high-rise New York law firm, Pacino runs the lives of a cloying bunch of characters portrayed as lawyers, murderers, sex fiends and devil-worshipping goat sacrificers.
Enter high-flying young defence lawyer Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves), skilled at winning cases at any cost.
Won over by Pacino’s seductive talk of excitement, loads of money, flash apartment, car, the works, Reeves and wife Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) take the bait.
But when, at a swanky client party, a leering Pacino moves in on Theron and tells her to pull back her mop of curly hair to expose her neck, it’s clear life for the young couple will never be the same again.
All is not what it appears at the firm of Milton, Chadwick & Waters.
What follows is a full-on classy blend of bloody horror, rape and over-egged black humour – all built around Pacino’s wickedly charming and terminally vengeful Milton character.
[Interestingly, a sculpture featuring human forms in Milton's apartment fell foul of a legal claim it too closely resembled the Ex nihilo sculpture by Frederick Hart on the facade of the Episcopal National Cathedral in Washington and was protected by copyright law. Warner Brothers agreed to edit the scene and attach stickers to unedited videotapes to indicate there was no relation between the sculpture in the film and Hart's work. Source: Wikipedia].
Pacino’s Spartan eyrie at the top of the high-rise is something to behold, blazing fires and all.
As they realise what selling themselves to Pacino really means, it is too late for the now dementedly unhappy couple to escape.
Her end is predictable.
His is not quite so clear cut, which makes for an unexpected finale triumph of evil over good.
Pacino and his makeup man enjoy themselves throughout - love the pasty complexion and yellowing teeth.
Good performances come from Jeffrey Jones, as the firm’s doomed Mr Fixit Eddie Barzoon, Craig T Nelson as family-murdering billionaire Alexander Cullen and Connie Nielsen as Reeves’ lusty co-worker Christabella Andreoli.
It’s good fun all round - one of Pacino’s best performances and well supported by a strong cast.
As Pacino/Milton quoted: “Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.”
Great late-night viewing.
Based on a novel by Andrew Neiderman, and directed by Taylor Hackford, Devil’s Advocate grossed nearly $US153 million.