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Devil's Advocate

An adult playground of courtrooms, sex and supernatural deception, 1997's DEVIL'S ADVOCATE is a thrill ride with Al Pacino at the wheel.

A very young Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, John Wick) stars as Kevin Lomax, a southern lawyer who's never lost a case. Not one.

But as the film opens, he seems to be cracking, knowing that the scumbag he's currently representing, Lloyd Gettes (Chris Bauer from "For All Mankind" and "True Blood") is a guilty, perverted teacher preying on teenage girls.

After yet another win, Kevin and his wife Mary Ann (Charlize Theron in her first major film role) barely have time to celebrate before he's invited to consult for jury selection by a huge New York City firm.

Kevin's mom Alice (a great Judith Ivey) urges him to stay home from the modern Babylon that awaits in the big city. Boy, is Mom right.

Kevin arrives at the firm and meets a huge staff, led by Eddie Barzoon (Jeffrey Jones of "Amadeus" fame and "Howard the Duck" infamy), Pam Gerrety (Debra Monk from "NYPD Blue") and a never ending parade of stunning assistants.

The enigmatic Christabella (Connie Nielsen) almost seems to float around the office, always stunning, always elusive.

They all report to John Milton, the all-powerful, brash and in-your-face head of the firm. Al Pacino was born to play Milton. He's soon courting Kevin with a massive NYC apartment, more money than he can imagine and a coveted spot at his side.

He assigns Kevin to his first huge case, to defend mega-billionaire developer Alexander Cullen (Craig T. Nelson from "Poltergeist") who's accused of killing his wife. Cullen is a disgusting piece of work and is revolted that Milton would assign firm rookie Kevin to save his career and lifestyle.

As Kevin vaults up the ladder, stunning women and sexual temptation surround him in every corner and elevator. Milton wants updates and work 24/7 and Mary Ann begins to miss Kevin. Alone in their massive apartment, Mary Ann begins to have hallucinations. Or are they?

Kevin himself begins to have flashes of evil, visions of trials and victims and perpetrators. Is he overworked or becoming entangled in something far beyond his comprehension?

Watching Reeves and Pacino together is fascinating. This is a VERY young Keanu. While his acting range would continue to improve with age, there are times that Pacino absolutely blows him off the screen as Keanu flails to keep up. It doesn't help that his southern accent seems to have a mind of its own, vanishing for long scenes.

Pacino nails every devilish confrontation and every bloviating speech in Milton's arsenal. I love his scene in the subway when two gang members try to intimidate him. Milton tells one of them something about the guys wife that he cant possibly know. As the thug runs home, Pacino yells "Invigorating!" to Keanu's Kevin so perfectly that it gets under your skin.

Milton's office mural is a fantastic visual during the climax, just one of the great sets from the production design by Bruno Rubeo (The Thomas Crown Affair, Born on the Fourth of July).

This is one of my favorite films from Director Taylor Hackford (An Office and a Gentleman, Ray, Against All Odds). With a big budget, a great cast and a hell of a story, Hackford weaves an incredible tale of seduction that seems to surround us at every turn. From the first moments of the film to the last frames, someone is being seduced. James Newton Howard's music score wraps everything in tension, big symphony mystery and his own seductive style. Howard (Signs, The Dark Knight, The Sixth Sense) is just as comfortable providing the music for a cocktail party amongst the rich and famous as he is pulling you into a horrific, bloody scene.

Watch Kevin's suits in the film. He starts off in a light cream color as the film opens and descends toward black as he dives deeper and deeper into Milton's world.

It's quite a journey. Fast paced, enjoyable and seductive in its own right, DEVIL'S ADVOCATE is a hell of a lot of fun, earning an A.

The closing scene made me laugh out loud in its audacity.

They rarely make films this frankly adult anymore. Our loss.

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