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The Devil's Advocate (1997)
Rated R

Starring: Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves, and Charlize Theron

Rating:
*
out of
*****

Lawyers as tools of the devil? What a unique concept! Al Pacino as Satan himself? Great entertainment value! Keanu Reeves as an up-and-coming Florida lawyer? You've got to be kidding!

Keanu Reeves plays Kevin Lomax, a young Florida defense attorney who has never lost a case. Of course, that means he comes up with some pretty devious ways to get his clients off the hook. While he's celebrating his most recent victory, he is approached by a man who tells him that a high profile law firm in New York City requests his services for a jury selection. Lomax accepts the offer, against the wishes of his highly religious mother. Taking his new bride, Mary Ann (Charlize Theron), Lomax is off to New York to meet John Milton (Al Pacino), his possible new boss.

Milton shows Lomax how things in the legal profession can really pay off. He intices him with a large apartment, a huge salary and the chance to work with some really attractive women. Lomax is initially reluctant, but finally accepts Milton's offer. He then finds himself thrown into a case that devours his free time. He rarely sees Mary Ann, who's been adopted by the other "legal widows" in their apartment building. Things are bad for the newlyweds, but things will get better once they're settled in.

But, after winning his first case, Lomax is handled a career-making case involving a high profile client (Craig T. Nelson.) He sees even less of Mary Ann, who's now starting to resent the move to New York. Suddenly, she begins to notice things aren't so normal, even for an overworked lawyer's wife. Things are, well, weird with the other lawyer's wifes. She starts seeing them as they really are. And it's a strange sight to see...

The Devil's Advocate is a horror movie wrapped in a John Grisham novel. Unfortunately, neither one shields the other from the stench of both. This movie breaks down the first time Reeves mysteriously loses his Southern accent in favor of his hipster speak for a line or two, then regains it a short time later. Thinly veiled references to Milton's real identity don't allow any suspense to build. The conclusion is inevitable because one knows before the film begins what the premise is going to be.

Pacino's performance is obviously full of humor. He's having a good time, so he's a lot of fun to watch. Unfortunately, Reeves is clueless in his role and Charlize Therone is simply annoying as the neglected wife. None of the characters in the movie seem to understand their own clues to Milton's identity, so, rather than sympathize with any of them, you simply want to slap them and get them to listen to what they're saying.

This movie could have been a lot of fun, with a more intelligent script and much better casting choices (other than Pacino.) Nothing in this movie is as fun as it should be because it's so damn stupid.

Trivia: Sculptor Frederick Hart and the Episcopal National Cathedral in Washington, DC, sued Warner Brothers over a statue that appears in the film and closely resembles Hart's "Ex Nihilo", which is situated above the entrance to the cathedral. A last-minute deal was negotiated to allow the film to be distributed on video. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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