The Devil's Advocate

Bomb Rating: 

Personally, if I'm watching Keanu comb his own hair, I'm checking carefully to make sure it's not a stunt double.

There's no telling what is going to screw up a movie. In the case of this Taylor("An Officer and a Gentleman") Hackford film, it can pretty much be traced to the trailers, which helpfully reveal that Al Pacino's character, John Milton, turns out to be the devil. In case you missed these spoilers, Hackford also throws in a nice literary reference for the two or three English professors who might notice it: John Milton's (1608-1674) epic poem, "Paradise Lost," is the story of Lucifer's revolt against God.

Thanks to this idiotic advertising campaign, the only remaining element of suspense is whether Keanu Reeves will convincingly play a Floridian lawyer. Personally, if I'm watching Keanu comb his own hair, I'm checking carefully to make sure it's not a stunt double. With the apparent help of special effects, Hackford is able to show the evolution of the Keanu Reeves creature as it goes from feeding itself to lacing its own shoes to simple multiplication. However, he stops short of showing Reeves passing the bar exam -- an indication that the grasp of Hollywood's illusion masters has yet to cross the line from the improbable to the impossible.

With believability out the window, Hackford sends Kevin Lomax (Reeves) and his wife, Mary Ann (Charlize Theron), to New York so Lomax can work at Milton's firm. As Kevin loses his soul defending a slimy businessman (Craig T. Nelson), Mary Ann changes from a strong-willed, interesting woman into a drooling idiot for no apparent reason. She sits around the apartment growing increasingly lonely and bored as Kevin works too much. Ever heard of a museum, honey? You're not in Gainesville anymore.

Naturally, the film ends with Pacino yelling something about human nature or some such thing in a blatant attempt to convince the Academy that yelling equals acting. Since they've bought it before, it's at least an admirable waste of time.

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