Most people already view defense attorney’s as horrible soulless monsters who quite often bring the most dangerous criminals back into the fabric of society and kept them out of the clutches of the justice system. Though in the U.S. everyone is guaranteed a trial and attorney representation for that trial, it can sometimes be painfully that someone is guilty, which only makes it that much more heartbreaking when their attorney convinces the court otherwise. Sometimes, it would appear that criminal defense attorneys are agents of the Devil himself. In this gripping psychological horror based on the novel by Andrew Neiderman, one unsuspecting lawyer becomes exactly that.
Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves), a defense attorney from Gainesville, Florida, has never lost a case his entire career. Winning by any means necessary, he’s managed to keep horrible people whom he knew were guilty out of prison, and when a powerful New York law firm offers him a substantial amount of money to assist in jury selection, and then later a position at the firm, Kevin gladly accepts both. He and his wife, Mary Anne (Charlize Theron), are excited about their new life, and love the luxurious apartment and all the perks that Kevin’s career of dishonesty has afforded them, but soon, Kevin’s work keeps him away from home for longer periods of time, and puts a strain on their marriage. Kevin’s heavily religious mother, Alice (Judith Ivey), suggests that they return home, but Kevin flat-out refuses.
As Kevin becomes more immersed in his firm’s shady (to say the least) dealings, isolated Mary Ann keeps having terrible visions about the partners and their wives being demonic entities, her stress culminating with a nightmare about a baby playing with her removed ovaries. When a doctor confirms that Mary Anne is infertile, it throws her into a terrible depression but Kevin, putting his work firm, decides to take care of his big case rather than his fragile wife.
As his home life unravels, Kevin finds himself more drawn to his beautiful co-worker Christabella (Connie Neilsen), and coming to his boss, John Milton (Al Pacino) more and more often for assistance and guidance. But John isn’t the sage mentor that he appears to be, and when Kevin consistently ignores the warnings of his mother, the fears of his wife, and the unheeded pleas of his good conscience, he is pulled closer to a horrifying truth about the people around him, and himself.
The Devil’s Advocate is gripping and intense, which was aided by the powerhouse performances of Reeves, Theron, and Pacino, but the story itself is what’s genius. This isn’t just a film about the Devil and sin, but about free will. The Devil’s Advocate reminds audiences that our environments can only give us the opportunity to do wrong; they do not force us to do anything we don’t want to do. Each person is responsible for their choices, and the consequences of those choices.
I give this one 5 stars.