THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE
Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron
A young lawyer sells his soul to work in
a powerful New York law firm.
Kevin Lomax (Reeves) is a ruthlessly
ambitious young prosecutor who is lured from Hicksville to a big New York
law firm by it’s mysterious senior partner, John Milton (Pacino). At
first all is well, but before long Lomax’s new job and new-found wealth
causes a rift with his wife (Theron), who suspects that he is being
groomed for something altogether more sinister and dangerous.
Taylor Hackford’s film is an all too rare
example of a thoughtful modern horror film. Although slickly executed,
it’s still not as subtle as one might hope, and there are several
fundamental flaws that prove impossible to reconcile. For example, the
film starkly contrasts one of the cinema’s most charismatic actors with
one who’d not cause ripples if you threw him in Lake Michigan (and yet,
he's the one you're supposed to identify with). The script is wordy and
eloquent, yet the characters are shallow and the story is threadbare.
There are two quite different
versions of the film available on disc. A lawsuit meant that Warner was
forced to modify certain shots to disguise a large sculpture that adorns
the wall of Milton’s apartment (the lawsuit was brought by the artist
Frederick Hart, whose work 'Ex Nihilo' inspired the mural). The original theatrical version of the
film was briefly available on VHS, laserdisc and DVD in the US, but was
quickly replaced with the modified version for all subsequent releases,
including the British rental, retail and DVD copies.
The film was shot by Andrzej Bartikowiak in
Panavision (2.35:1) ratio, but only the DVD versions preserve the
original compositions (enhanced for 16:9 TVs). Incidentally, the UK’s “widescreen” VHS tape is a
worthless 1.78:1 compromise. The Region 1 version is preferable, since
about half an hour of deleted scenes have been dropped from the UK disc,
(although it does still feature Hackford’s informative commentary track,
as well as the usual inconsequential production notes, English and foreign
subtitles, etc). Both versions are dual-layered discs with excellent
picture quality. The colours are a little paler on the Region 2 disc, but
seem to be more natural and altogether better balanced. The film’s Dolby
5.1 sound mix is rarely flashy, but is generally involving.