THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE (1997) Reviews and overview

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The Devil’s Advocate is a 1997 American supernatural horror film based on a novel of the same name by Andrew Neiderman. It was directed by Taylor Hackford and stars Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino and Charlize Theron.

The film’s title is a reference to the commonly-used phrase “devil’s advocate”, and Pacino’s character is named after the author of Paradise Lost, John Milton. The movie has some minor allusions to Milton’s epic, such as the famous quotation “Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven”.


Kevin Lomax, a defense attorney in Gainesville, Florida, has never lost a case. He defends a schoolteacher, Mr Gettys, against a charge of child molestation. During the trial, Kevin realizes that his client is guilty, and a reporter tells him that a guilty verdict is all but inevitable. However, through a harsh cross-examination, Kevin destroys the credibility of the victim, Barbara, and secures another not guilty verdict.

As he celebrates, Kevin is approached by a representative of the New York law firm Milton, Chadwick & Waters, who offers him a large sum of money to help the firm with a jury selection. After Kevin’s jury delivers a not guilty verdict, John Milton (Al Pacino) offers him a large salary and a swanky apartment if he joins the firm. Despite warnings from his Evangelical Christian mother, Alice, about sinful big city life, Kevin accepts the job and moves with his wife Mary Ann to Manhattan…


“Simply a must-see. Though you probably don’t need me to tell you how cool it is to see Al Pacino in the role of Satan. Al Pacino just simply “works” for this film premise. You don’t need him to sprout horns and cape to get that he is a “classic” Satan that prefers to indulge in the evils of the world.” Horror News

“While there is no small irony in a big Hollywood film’s finger-wagging about the seductions of wealth and power, Devil’s Advocate does avoid clumsy moralizing and old-hat notions of good and evil. It helps that Kevin is no naif, and that his churchgoing Mama (Judith Ivey) sees Manhattan as ”a dwelling place of demons” well before that perception becomes unavoidable.” The New York Times

charlize theron devil's advocate

“Diverting supernatural hokum, elevated from the tolerable by a cracking, show-stealing performance by Al Pacino. It’s mostly enjoyable, sporadically entertaining, but it might stretch your patience as it’s nearly two-and-a-half hours long.” Total Film

“Tongue planted gently in his cheek, director Hackford makes his anti-materialist points without ever taking things too seriously. Regrettably, an overblown finale and redundant trick ending undercut the mild subversiveness of what’s gone before.” Time Out

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