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David.jpg (1714 bytes)Even though this is not a film for the kids, I was surprised by its biblical awareness. Beyond this, imagine the Devil as an attorney! -Clever!
Review by David Bruce
THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE
(1997)
This page was last updated on June 25, 2005
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MARY DICKSON, Weekly Wire, says:
The Devil's Advocate is modern parable, not fright fest. It's a wild ride into that age-old territory: The eternal battle between good and evil, between succumbing to base instincts and controlling them. It's a cautionary tale that will leave a lot of locals polishing their CTR rings and vowing to be better people. "You'd better examine your motives," I overheard one man in the audience admonish his wife on their way out of the theater. After seeing this whopper, a lot of people will be doing just that.
 
Kevin Lomax: Keanu Reeves,
John Milton: Al Pacino ,
Mary Ann Lomax: Charlize Theron,
Eddie Barzoon: Jeffrey Jones,
Mrs. Lomax: Judith Ivey,
Alexander Cullen: Craig T. Nelson.  
Directed by Taylor Hackford.
Written by Jonathan Lemkin and Tony Gilroy.
Running time: 138 minutes.
Rated R (for sexuality, nudity, violence and language).
 
 
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A young Southern lawyer, Kevin Lomax, who has won all of his court cases, is invited to New York to join a worldwide law firm headed by John Milton. He and his wife, Mary Ann, accept the invitation and head to NY. On the way he stops off to see his mother at a small Pentecostal type church. The congregation is singing a gospel chorus about "the God of Peace... will crush Satan under your feet." They quote scripture about Satan's defeat. The stage is set for the rest of the film. The church service is given great respect by the filmmakers. In the images above notice how orderly and peaceful the church scenes are. In times past this type of church would have been unduly portrayed as ridiculous. After the service Kevin tells his mother about the opportunity in NY. She is not happy and warns, "Let me tell you about New York." She then compares it to the evil Babylon in end-time biblical prophecy and quotes Revelation 18:2, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit." Kevin responds, "I know the hour of judgement has come." Despite his mother's warnings, however, he heads off to NY with his wife who says, "we better have some grandkids so we can get her off our back. What do you say?"
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Arriving in NY Kevin meets the Devil himself. Kevin doesn't know this, however, until the end of the film. The Devil's name is John Milton, which is also the name of the famous poet who wrote "Paradise Lost." It is interesting that not one film reviewer I read mentioned this or made comment about the church service. These are important points. The film is loaded with visual clues. Milton does a snake thing with his tongue. In Milton's first appearance his head is framed by an arch giving him a religious aura. His top floor office has a large hellish fireplace and an outdoor roof walkway complete with a paradise-type waterfall that overlooks NY.
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Kevin accepts the job and takes the firm's huge salary, which also includes a luxurious two-floor Manhattan apartment.  At this point the film is very much like Rosemary's Baby.  In that film a young couple wanting a baby moves into a brightly colored apartment that has Satanic neighbors.  This is the same exact story here. 

Milton gives Kevin his first case that, appropriately enough, is an animal-sacrifice case. Kevin wins by defending it as a matter of freedom of religion.

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     The film is loaded with not so obvious details as in the above scenes. Observant eyes and ears are useful when watching this film.
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Mary Ann, Kevin's wife, soon learns that John Milton is actually Satan! Kevin, of course, doesn't believe her and has her committed to a hospital where Satan rapes her. Now Kevin begins to believe her. To keep from having Satan's child Mary Ann commits suicide. Kevin confronts Milton in his office where he learns that his mother and Milton were lovers and that he has a half sister with whom Satan wants Kevin to have a child. This would be the Antichrist. Kevin has all sorts of questions. "Why attorneys?" Kevin asks. "Because law is the ultimate backstage pass. There are now more students in law schools than lawyers walking the streets." In the Bible the law brings a curse (Gal. 3:18). Milton says "God likes to watch; he's a prankster. He gives man instincts for his own amusement then sets gag rules to do just the opposite."

To Milton, God's an "absentee landlord" while he says that he's "been here from day one with my hands in the dirt."  Kevin asks Milton who he really is. Milton's reply: "I have so many names." Kevin: "Such as Satan?" to which Milton replies, "Call me Dad."  Kevin having a Bible background reminds Milton that in the Bible book of Revelation Satan finally loses in the end. "We'll win and write a new book," Milton boasts.

 

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Milton needs his son and daughter to have a child to make his family complete. Kevin using his God given resource, free will, kills himself. Thus, Kevin defeats the Devil's plan.

Sudden flashes in the film reveal the Devil's true appearance and his fall from heaven.  The film goes on to a surprise ending which I won't tell except to say that pride and vanity are the devil's tools.

RELATED HUMOR

Two messengers met one day, one was a follower of Jesus and the other one served Satan.

The messenger who was serving God asked, "How are you doing?"

Satan's messenger replied" "Oh, it is terrible. We work hard all day long and we get really hungry. When Satan finally lets us have a break we go into a huge dinning room. There is a lot of wonderful food on a long table. Satan tells us we can eat all we want as long as we use our 6 foot long forks. It is impossible! We can never eat more than a bite before we are too tired to eat anymore. We stay hungry!"

The messenger of God replied, "That is funny. We have the same type of table filled with wonderful food and the same 6 foot forks. Only we eat all the food we want ... we just feed each other!"


VISITOR RESONSES:

OK OK ITS ABOUT THE SCENE ON THE ROOF
Subject: Devils_Advocate
Date: Sat, 8 Sep 2001
From: Shawn

in the bible satan tempts Jesus...he takes him to the top of the temple and says something to the affect of, "if you jump your angels will come and grab you so that you wont strke a foot on a rock" Jesus then responds with biblical quotes and they move on to the next temptation. i hope that helps

IN READER'S DIGEST
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001
From: Betty

Who wrote the book? I think it was a Reader's Digest Monthly choice years ago. Thanks betty

THE SHOES
Subject: Mystery shot in DA
Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2000
From: Darklock

Found this on your Devil's Advocate page. (I *love* this site!)

"kevin looks at al, who is standing at the edge of the fall with his back to kevin, from top to bottom; specially his shoes. what's this shot telling."

The shot of his shoes is not to show the shoes themselves, but to show how close he is to the edge and how slick the stone at his feet is. If you've ever been at the top of a New York skyscraper, you know what the winds are like up there. You also know that when the wind gusts, it rocks the entire building. Bluntly, NOBODY in his right mind would EVER stand that close to the edge of that roof unless he had a death wish -- and Al stands there without the slightest evidence of fear or concern, a subtle but compelling display of power.

THE UGLINESS OF SELF AS GOD
Subject: The ugliness of self as god...
From: Michael

I watched this film late last night and was so stunned by the power of its message that I had to spend some time evaluating my own life and motivations. Vanity and lust are strong desires and can hide themselves in surprising ways. This film shone a light into dark places for me. It has haunted me all through the day today and prompted me to find out other people's views which is how I found your site. I was pleasantly surprised to find other Christians with an open approach to a film with such graphic material. Thanks for taking the time to produce the site. Regards, Michael

ABOUT THE SHOES
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2000
From: H S

i've seen this movie several times, and yet i don't understand why they have a shot which seems to have no meaning. this is a shot when kevin goes on the roof for the first time and is amazed by the waterfall. during their conversation, kevin looks at al, who is standing at the edge of the fall with his back to kevin, from top to bottom; specially his shoes. what's this shot telling. please help me, because this has been bothering me for a while.
thanks a lot hs

Response: I think it was to emphasis the height of the roof top.

GOD DOES NOT LIKE CERTAIN FILMS
Subject: Dear David..
Date: Tue, 1 Aug 2000
From: Matt

Hi David, I want to start out by saying I really admire your website. It's a blessing to be able to look into visual movie reviews before seeing them to actually get an understanding of the themes and symbolism hidden inside. A few movies here and there I didn't really agree with but some movie reviews were so right and so true.

I still don't honestly feel that God would want us to watch such movies as Devil's Advocate or American Beauty, because despite it's true meaning and message, it comes across very graphic and God would not want us to fill our minds with something that can be a stumbling block in our christian walk. God really wouldn't want us to watch movies with profane language, sexual content and graphic nudity. It doesn't build our relationship with God and it's important to sit down God next to us while watching the movie and think would God like that movie.

Don't get me wrong though, there are many R rated films that have been portrayed in a graphic way that I feel God would be pleased with. Films like Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot, or Glory are some examples because in order to portray a movie on war you must show it's brutal nature. Anyways, I still agree with what you believe in and I'm pleased to see that God is using this site to benefit many others. Take care David and I hope the Lord continues to be a blessing in your life.
Sincerely, Matt

Response: For me, I found deep cultural significance in both American Beauty and Devil's Advocate. If you feel that these types of films are dangerous for your spiritual walk with God -then stay away, for sure. I think, however, your vision is somewhat narrow and focused more on the carnal aspects of a film rather that the spiritual. Thank you for the kind thoughts. -David

IMPRESSED
Date: Thu, 4 May 2000
From: Wesley Channell

I just saw this movie today and was impressed by several things that you didn't mention in the review. In the ending dialogue we find that Satan's favorite sin is vanity. This is brought out in brilliant detail by the "negotiations between the devil and Kevin. The devil points out that Kevin was invovled with someone else "himself" and this caused him to be blind to everything. As well, Satan says he loves the fact that it is the simple sin like vanity that is the most powerful. Without giving away the ending, it is interesting that the final comments of the film bring "vanity" to be the besetting sin whatever the form. What a comment for our narcisstic generation. Thanks for your reviews and your work.
Sincerely, Wesley Channell

END OF DAYS
Subject: Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000
From: Jenni Cady

I stumbled across your site last fall when I was looking for music from Blues Brothers 2000. I really enjoyed your review of that movie!!! My dad had made my husband and I watch that movie and we loved it. Of course, the revival scene was my favorite. To be born-again as a Blues Brother, let alone just being born again! Anyways, I have loved checking out your site periodically. I haven't been to the movies much lately, but we happened to go to End of Days on New Years Day and we were completely disgusted. It wasn't all that I hoped it would be, but that's life. However, I loved The Devil's Advocate, and I thought your review of that movie was completely on target with what we saw. I was wondering if you would consider renting the Rock Opera "Tommy" and doing a review of it? I got interested in that movie when I was in around 8th grade and went on a road trip with my stepdad & mom, and we listened to the soundtrack from Washington state to California. So they rented it for me, and I loved it and then they bought it for me. I remembered thinking that it somehow had to do with the story of Jesus, but I really didn't understand how. I had my dad & stepmom watch it with me, and it stirred up lots of interesting conversations. I tried to get some of my high school friends to watch it then and they didn't really understand where I was coming from. This last year, I've been trying to find reviews on it to see if anyone else felt the way I did. It's a long movie that needs all attention paid to it, and with three children I hadn't been able to watch it for about 5 years. Since I have only been saved about three years, I have wondered if I would still feel the same about it. On Saturday of this weekend I finally got to watch it, and I was still really intrigued by it. I would really love it if you might watch it and review it? It definitely has some spiritual significance to it and I would love to hear your take on it.
Thank You, Jennifer Cady

ADVOCATE DOES NOT ADVOCATE SEX
Subject: Wonderful Portratal of Sexuality!
Date: Thu, 06 Jan 2000
From: Matt

This is a brilliant film! Though some parts contain unnecessary nudity. Unlike other movies where the sex would be gloriefied, the show does a wonderful job of giving the feeling that such acts are immoral and wrong.

ABOUT THE TACKED ON ENDINGS OF FILMS
Subject: Endings and other films
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999
From: Jonah

Not to give anything away, but the ending was in reality a tacked-on "happy" ending; who wants to have a movie end with someone killing himself? The ending ruined the parable of the story -- if you recall, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari's American release was framed in a tacked-on story to let the audience feel "good" it was all just a dream. It was not; rather, it was a metaphor for Germany's chaos at the time.
Same here. Yes, yes, there is that "the sin of pride" ending, but didn't it feel like a semi-cop out.
Speaking of movies in which the character kills himself at the end, try the movie "Videodrome", by David Cronenberg, starring James Woods and Debbie Harry, about a network producer of a small UHF channel who constantly seeks the most depraved programming. It is rife with religious metaphor ("Long live the new flesh!").
Additionally, try out "Tron", starring Jeff Bridges, which is openly about the Roman gladiatorial oppression of Christians, set inside a computer. Humans are the program's "Gods", called "Users". The ending shot is remarkable, as it makes the statement that we are the programs serving under our own God.


PICKED UP ON THE SYMBOLISM
October 25, 1999

I'm afraid I must just be too conservative--I walked out of the Devil's Advocate. --it got too graphic and bloody and made the little hairs stand up on the back of my neck and my heart start beating. I had to apologize to God for even going in the first place--even tho yes, I did pick up on the symbolism. Ugh! Satan is such a master of light and deception in this world and no where better than in what we see, hear, say , n' do--like filling our minds with him at the movies instead of with HIM elsewhere or at uplifting movies.
Love ya, David. You are an astute reviewer!
My responses: You apologized to God? What? Why? Uplifting movies do not equal better. Also, Jesus said it is not what goes in, rather what comes out of you that defiles you.


THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE, MILTON AND PACINO
July 19, 1999.

David, I have written to you before and have recently watched The Devil's Advocate. Oh boy  do you have an eye for detail. I watched this twice and also on DVD all the way through hearing the Directors Commentary, but he only pointed out limited symbolism compared with your observation. He discussed morals and free will, but made a point of stating that he, as director is not particularly religious.
     The notes on the DVD version of the film discuss the Devil and all his
different names, representing different sins. It goes to length in describing John Milton, as the Devil and found it fascinating how they chose to elaborate on his past within the church. John Milton is famous for 'Paradise Lost' and thereafter 'Paradise Re-Gained', but the  filmmaker's chose to dwell on his lower profile activities in establishing   divorce as 'acceptable due to incompatibility' and other roaming's he had
both through parliament and the church.
     There seems to be much activity amongst those in the film and music  industry, and it also appears that there are a few with philosophies that   are being passed on to artists to represent to the audience. God is being mentioned much more, but salvation and Jesus remains in the subtle symbolism in the background, if illustrated at all. My main worry is for the majority that 'seem' to fail in seeing this symbolism to realize salvation and believe that; God is either 'too' hard please, the devil is 'too' difficult to resist or somewhere in between we can only 'do the best we can' by our own right and wrong turnings from free will (works if you  like). Thank God His grace demonstrated in Jesus for those who believe in Him! However, in saying that God can do what He likes and my personal trust is that He can deal with that if it is His will.
      I enjoyed the explicit statements on truth's about man in the film and the  way that Pacino delivered it, he is very talented, and his acting is a  great gift. It was amazing how they captured the subtle twists in   perspective to justify 'man' and his selfish desires and vanity,  represented as being 'honest' to oneself! And then to blame God for making  man this way played to the intellect and belief that 'we are gods' by  having free will, 'why of course man will fall and yield to feed the  desires that are part of the human make up, it's not his fault he's made  that way'.
     However, wasn't this the reason the brightest angel was cast down from Heaven, he believed that he could now be his own boss and maybe better? In the end however, we get to see the 'truth', we are NOT God and can never know more than He that created us. Who are we to question God, does the pot question the potter scenario? The devil seems to have all the answers, but in the end he has deceived again and when free will goes against him, is shown as he truly is; vain, proud, angry, selfish and non-caring and this when bared to the human as it really looks is; 'ugly', frightening and deadly.
A very challenging film.
Kind regards,
-Colin

My response: Good to hear from you again Colin. I think of you often. I also think of this film a lot too. It was an incredible film with a very surprising and thought provoking ending.


CLEVER ENDING

Feb 18 1999

A challenging movie, especially about examining your motives. And I love the line about satan favourite sin being vanity, as sin pretty much comes down to selfishness - loving yourself more than God/others. The ending is so clever, that satan keeps attacking over and over.
--scott berry


JOHN MILTON AND PARADISE LOST

Feb 8 1999,

I read Paradise Lost in one of my English classes. I'm going to be writing a paper and I thought it was ironic that John Milton, the author of PL was also Satan in The Devil's Advocate. I was hoping to compare/contrast these two for my paper. Do you know of any other sites or places where I could get more information about direct relationships of the two? Your website was very helpful! Thanks, --Jennifer jbhansen@internetcds.com

 

MOVIES WITH ANGELS IN THEM:
CITY OF ANGELS
MICHAEL
A LIFE LESS ORDINARY
PROPHECY
PROPHECY 2

INSIGHTS ABOUT ANGELS:
ANGELS AND HOLLYWOOD
ANGELS IN THE BIBLE
GABRIEL
MICHAEL
SATAN HAS FALLEN

Devil's Advocate © Warner Bros. All rights reserved.