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The Devil's Advocate is a 1997 Americanmarker thriller/horror film directed by Taylor Hackford starring Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino and Charlize Theron, and based on a novel by Andrew Neiderman.

The film's title is a reference to the common 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 serve in Heaven".

Plot summary

Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) is a very successful defense attorney in Gainesville, Floridamarker; he has never lost a case. As the movie opens, Lomax is defending a schoolteacher, Mr. Gettys (Chris Bauer), against a charge of child molestation. During the trial, Kevin comes to believe his client is guilty. During a recess, a reporter speaks to Kevin, saying that "nobody wins 'em all." Kevin still decides to go forward and wins the case after a harsh cross-examination of the young witness (Heather Matarazzo) that destroys her credibility.

At a celebration after the conclusion of the trial, Kevin is approached by a representative of the New Yorkmarker law firm of Milton, Chadwick & Waters, who offers him a large sum of money to help the firm with jury selection. After his selected jury results in a not guilty verdict, John Milton (Al Pacino), invites him to join the firm as a criminal litigator, offering a large salary and a swanky apartment. Kevin accepts, and he moves with his wife Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) to Manhattanmarker despite warnings from his devoutly religious mother (Judith Ivey) about the sinfulness of big city life.

Kevin's first trial is defending a man (Delroy Lindo) who ritualistically sacrificed an animal. He soon wins this case, citing Kashrut laws and claiming that the defendant was exercising his rights to freedom of religion. During the trial, however, Kevin has begun to spend much time at work and less time with Mary Ann. She feels out of place and abandoned.

Kevin's next assignment is defending Alexander Cullen (Craig T. Nelson) in a high-profile murder trial. This trial is even more demanding of Kevin's time, separating him more from Mary Ann. He is also having fantasies about Christabella Andreoli (Connie Nielsen), a beautiful co-worker. Mary Ann starts to show signs of a serious mental illness. Milton suggests that Kevin step down from the trial and that his wife must come first, but Kevin decides to go forward.

Eddie Barzoon (Jeffrey Jones), the firm's managing attorney, thinks that Kevin is competing for his job after finding Kevin's name in the company papers as a partner. Kevin claims that he does not know anything about it; Barzoon, however, threatens to tell a person named Weaver about the current state of affairs. Kevin approaches Milton and tells him about the situation with Barzoon; Milton tells him not to worry. While jogging in Central Parkmarker, Barzoon is beaten to death by two vagrants, who take on demonic appearances during the murder. Mary Ann sees this from her apartment window, causing her mental state to deteriorate further.

While preparing Cullen's assistant, Melissa Black (Laura Harrington) for a testimony, Kevin believes that she is lying and tells Milton he believes Cullen is guilty. Milton again offers Kevin the opportunity to back him no matter what, with or without putting Melissa on the stand. Again, Kevin decides to proceed, and wins the case.

Upon returning home from the trial, Kevin finds Mary Ann in a nearby church. She claims she spent the whole afternoon with Milton and that he raped and mutilated her. She is naked, with cuts over her body. However, as Kevin had seen Milton in court with him at the time of the alleged attack, he believes Mary Ann has done the damage to herself, and has her admitted to a mental institution.

Kevin is approached by a man presenting himself as Mitch Weaver, an investigator for the Justice Departmentmarker with insight into the law firm's shady dealings. Kevin doesn't want to listen and tries to walk away, stopping only when Weaver tells him that his former Gainesville client, Mr. Gettys, was found with the dead body of a young girl. Weaver then walks out in the street and is hit by a car and killed.

Kevin's mother and Pam (Debra Monk), Kevin's case manager at the firm, go to visit Mary Ann in the hospital. While being left alone with Mary Ann, Pam appears as a demon to Mary Ann through a mirror. Mary Ann attacks Pam with the mirror and locks herself into the room and commits suicide, while Kevin tries — in vain — to stop her. After this Kevin learns from his mother that Milton is his father. Devastated, he leaves the hospital to confront Milton.

Kevin finds Milton in his apartment and Milton admits to having raped Mary Ann. Kevin learns that Milton is not only his father, but also Satan. At first, Kevin blames Milton for everything that happened, but Milton tells him that he had merely "set the stage", and that Kevin could have chosen to leave at any time. Kevin finally acknowledges that he wanted to win, no matter what, and had left Mary Ann behind.

Milton reveals his goal of beating God and also dismisses the Biblical prophecy which says he's going to lose on Judgment Day. ("Consider the source, son.") He then explains that he wants Kevin and Christabella, now revealed to be Kevin's half-sister, to conceive a child: the Antichrist. Kevin negotiates with Milton, who then offers Kevin anything that he wants. However, Kevin rejects his Satanic heritage and, citing free will, he commits suicide, ending Milton's plans.

We find Kevin in the past, at the recess of the Gettys trial. Upon returning to the trial, Kevin this time announces in open court that he can no longer represent his client, despite the possibility of being disbarred. A reporter — the same one from the first scene — follows Kevin and Mary Ann, offering to interview Kevin about his decision, saying he will be a star. After some prodding from Mary Ann, Kevin accepts the offer. After Kevin and Mary Ann exit the courthouse, the reporter shapeshifts into Milton and says with a sly grin (breaking the fourth wall), "Vanity...definitely my favorite sin".

Reception

Box Office Performance

The Devil's Advocate earned $12,170,536 during its opening weekend in the United Statesmarker.
Domestic Total Gross $60,944,660
Foreign Total Gross: $92,000,000
Worldwide Gross: $152,944,660


Notable locations



Legal problems

The film was the subject of legal action following its release. The claim was that the sculpture featuring human forms in John Milton's apartment closely resembled the Ex nihilo sculpture by Frederick Hart on the facade of the Episcopal National Cathedralmarker in Washington, D.C.marker

A settlement was reached where the sculpture would be altered in all future releases of the film. Prior to that, the studio had placed disclaimer stickers on their unaltered DVD/VHS material. The altering removed the human forms from the sculpture during shots in which a large part of the sculpture can be seen so that it would not resemble the Ex Nihilo. This is most notable at the wide shot when Kevin first enters Milton's apartment. During the digital animation sequences of the sculpture at the end of the film, the human forms are present in both the altered and unaltered versions.

Cast

Actor Role
Keanu Reeves Kevin Lomax
Al Pacino John Milton
Charlize Theron Mary Ann Lomax
Jeffrey Jones Eddie Barzoon
Judith Ivey Alice Lomax
Connie Nielsen Christabella Andreoli
Craig T. Nelson Alexander Cullen
Tamara Tunie Jackie Heath
Ruben Santiago-Hudson Leamon Heath
Debra Monk Pam Garrety
Vyto Ruginis Mitch Weaver, Justice Dept.
Laura Harrington Melissa Black
Pamela Gray Diana Barzoon
Heather Matarazzo Barbara
George Wyner Meisel
Delroy Lindo Phillipe Moyez (uncredited)


References

  1. The Devil's Advocate (1997) - Box office / business
  2. The Devil's Advocate (1997)
  3. The Devil's Advocate


External links




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