Picks and Pans Review: The Devils Advocate

updated 10/27/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/27/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino

When Pacino kicks into comic overdrive in The Devil's Advocate, this dismal mess suddenly snaps to life. Playing a devilishly powerful Manhattan attorney with strong ties to the underworld—and we're not talking the Mafia—Pacino cajoles, jive talks and even sings as he makes a last ditch pitch to win a protégé (Reeves, stilted as ever) over to the dark side. This rant is pure Pacino and darn funny. Unfortunately, Pacino's pyrotechnics come too near the movie's end, long after one's patience with Advocate, a misguided attempt to cross a supernatural horror film with a legal thriller, has worn thin.

Reeves, our hero, plays a successful, happily married Florida trial attorney whom Pacino entices into coming to the Big Apple by offering him a high-paying job and a swank apartment. But before you can say Rosemary's Baby, Reeves's wife (Charlize Theron) is having scary visions and sporting bloody scratch marks. Is there something wrong with this picture? Yes, in every sense. Advocate, directed with no appreciable style by Taylor Hack-ford (Dolores Claiborne), at least proves that one can't mix and match the styles of Stephen King and John Grisham. (R)

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