Speculative Fiction Saturday: Devil’s Advocate

Devils AdvocateLast week, I told you that I enjoyed the Keanu Reeves movie of Constantine, a story filled with angels and demons, even if they are not necessarily biblical in their depiction. While I am comfortable watching a film where spiritual warfare takes a very physical form, I just found that I had a hard time believing in the basic concept behind this film.

Before I get to talking about what this film is about, I have to ask: “What do you think a film called Devil’s Advocate would be about?” If you said: “I don’t know something about a devil and a lawyer”, you would be correct. It was like someone started with that idea, and somewhere along the line, they could figure out how to sustain it.

It begins in a courtroom, where Keanu Reeves plays Kevin Lomax, who is playing a lawyer, with some Southern accent. He does as good as a job as you might think, and it looks like he did at least some research before or after he took the role. Lomax is defending some teacher charged with sexual harassment, and it looks like he is going to lose as the key witness has a story that sounds genuine. Lomax takes a recess, and then goes and wins the case.

Lomax is then given an offer to work at a prestigious law firm in New York City, and it is quite a package. He and his wife, Mary Ann, (who is played by Charlize Theron before she became a serious A-List star) are given an apartment, and everyone who works at this law firm works lives there.

The head man is John Milton, played by Al Pacino. Yes, his name is the same as the writer of Paradise Lost, which is an epic poem about the devil’s fall from heaven. In all honesty, I don’t believe that story about the devil being in heaven originally, but I don’t want to get into that. The point is that John Milton is the devil, in case that apparently symbolic name didn’t give you a clue.

Lomax has a mother who doesn’t like her son embracing such “worldly” things, and that is probably as accurate a description as I can say. At the same time, Mary Ann Lomax is attempting to embrace this life of luxury, but there is this part of her telling her that it isn’t right. As a result, she breaks down mentally over what seems to be the smallest thing: the color of her apartment.

Mixed in with this is, Lomax has to take on a new client named Alexander Cullen (no relation to the family in Twilight) who has been accused of stabbing his wife. Cullen is played by Craig T. Nelson, but he’s not figured into the story much. Lomax doesn’t seem to want to take the time to take care of his wife’s health, but seems determined to solve the case.

Now, here’s what is interesting. There is a scene where Lomax insists that he can win the case, and then deal with his wife. It is John Milton, the devil character that tries to talk him out of it. You heard me, the devil actually wanted Lomax to do the right thing.

Now, up to this point, this film actually has some interesting ideas, and I thought that perhaps this would be an interesting morality tale about resisting the broad and narrow path. Then at some point, this film just goes a little crazy, as does Mary Ann. At this point, I’m going to spoil this film, because it would be better to read my description that to see this film.

Apparently, the devil molests Lomax’s wife, and she is so distraught over it that she kills herself. This is pretty heavy subject matter, and since I can’t say that the devil has the power to sexually molest a mortal, I can’t really recommend this film after this point.

Then the devil reveals that he has a lot of power, sticking his finger into one of those holy water receptacles at a church and the water boils. Assuming that the devil can take physical form like this, do we really need to make him an X-man?

In other words, the devil is way too powerful. There is a scene where everyone in New York City but Lomax just inexplicably disappears, like the opening of Vanilla Sky and all of I Am Legend. A lot of money probably went into that effect, and it feels needless.

At the end of the film, the devil seems to make a case for bringing Lomax on his team, but I’m not really certain what he wants him to do. Does the devil want to just go against God, somehow, and how? It isn’t very clear, and then there is this revelation that the devil is Lomax’s father, and this woman Lomax was attracted to is his sister, and…oh, this film is a mess.

Then the ending happens, where it is revealed that the entire film, where Lomax wins the first child molester case, to going to New York, until the end where Lomax kills himself (don’t ask) is completely fake. It is some kind of dream or thought from the main character, as he realizes that he can’t defend his child molester client. He then backs out of the case, even though he could be disbarred.

In the end, Lomax walks away with his now living wife, and a reporter stops him along the way. Apparently, the reporter is going to have a great story, and Lomax is about to become a star of a media circus. It is revealed that the reporter is the devil in disguise, and his last line is about how vanity will get to this man.

So we have an “evil lives on” ending. I never did like that idea of an ending, and I suppose that this is a cautionary tale…maybe. Actually, I can’t figure out what the point of this film is, only that I can’t stand endings where the reset switch is hit.

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