The Devil's Advocate

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 plus 2 TV spots
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1997 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Taylor Hackford (Director)
Running Time 138 minutes Other Extras Cast & Crew Biographies
Production Notes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (74:04)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 4 Director Taylor Hackford

Warner Home Video
Starring Keanu Reeves
Al Pacino
Charlize Theron
Jeffrey Jones
Judith Ivey
Craig T. Nelson
Case Snapper
RRP $29.95 Music James Newton Howard

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Director's Commentary - English (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
  • Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1    
    Macrovision Yes    
  • English
  • French
  • Italian
  • Dutch
  • Arabic
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese
  • English for the Hearing Impaired
  • Italian for the Hearing Impaired
  • Director's Commentary - English
  • Director's Commentary - French
  • Director's Commentary - Italian
  • Director's Commentary - Spanish

    Plot Synopsis

        The Devil's Advocate is a complex and lush production. Keanu Reeves plays Kevin Lomax, a hot shot lawyer in Florida who has never lost a case. He is recruited to a New York law firm headed by John Milton (Al Pacino). But, things are not quite right with Milton and his firm. Milton seems to know things. Too many things. And he never seems to sleep. However, Kevin immerses himself in his work. This leaves his wife Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) to progressively fend for herself more and more. She progressively becomes unhinged, seeing things that aren't really there...or are they?

        At its heart, The Devil's Advocate is a moral tale about good and evil, and the choices we make. It slowly and surely builds in tension until the climactic end sequence. Other than being a little slow to begin with, and Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves starting off a little stiff and uninspired, the movie soon picks up and remains very intriguing all of the way through the remainder of the movie. There is some excellent acting here, from all of the leads, and in particular from Al Pacino in the end sequence which in the hands of a lesser actor could have descended into the farcical.

    Transfer Quality


        The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

        The transfer was very sharp and very clear. Shadow detail was generally excellent, and no low level noise was apparent.

        The colours were all perfectly saturated, with warm deep browns and clear greens.

        No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of somewhat excessive aliasing at times from the usual aliasing culprits. One particular night panning shot of New York is particularly severe in this regard. Fortunately, the majority of the movie does not exhibit this artefact. Film artefacts were excessive given the recent vintage of this movie, and became somewhat distracting at times.

        This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring at 74:04, between Chapters 24 and 25. This is slightly disruptive to the movie, but as always, it is far less distracting than having to get up to flip the disc.


        There are four audio tracks on this DVD - English, French and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks, and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded commentary track. I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack which is the default soundtrack and also to the commentary track.

        Dialogue was virtually always clear and very easy to understand, although I missed a few words on occasion due to the thick accents being used. Understandable dialogue is critically important to a dialogue-driven movie such as this one.

        There were no audio sync problems.

        The music was composed by James Newton Howard, who is rapidly becoming my favourite screen composer ever since I started taking notice of this credit. I have found that his scores always superbly fit the movies they are written for without ever becoming obtrusive like some other screen composers such as John Williams. The score for this movie is another fine example of his work, with the music underpinning the on-screen emotion and drama perfectly.

         The surround channels were frequently used for music and occasional ambience. They are nicely enveloping without being spectacular in this regard.

        The .1 channel was used moderately for music.


        There is a reasonable collection of extras on this disc.


        The menu design is a typical Warner Bros menu. The menu is 16x9 enhanced.

    Audio Commentary

        The audio commentary track features Taylor Hackford, the film's director. It is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded soundtrack, with the commentary in the centre channel and the movie's audio mixed in at a low level underneath the commentary. This is a excellent commentary track. Taylor Hackford speaks for almost the entire movie, with only a few seconds pause here and there. He gives a wealth of information regarding the functions of each scene, technical considerations for each scene, casting considerations, and other more general comments. He speaks in a very animated fashion about this movie, and it is abundantly clear that he is very pleased with the final cut of this movie. Well worth a listen.

    Theatrical Trailer

        There is one theatrical trailer on this disc and two TV spots. The theatrical trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The TV spots are presented at an aspect ratio of 4:3 and also with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

    Production Notes

        These are quite extensive and worth reading. They cover locations, casting, and general mythology.

    Cast & Crew Biographies

        These are also quite extensive.


        The Devil's Advocate is an intriguing movie with excellent acting and an excellent story. Well worth owning.

        The video quality is acceptable, albeit with a few more flaws than I would expect from a movie of this recent vintage.

        The audio quality is good, and pleasantly enveloping even though this is a dialogue-driven movie.

        The extras are limited in extent except for the excellent audio commentary. This is a movie that cries out for a Making Of featurette, particularly in regards to the end sequence.

    Ratings (out of 5)


    © Michael Demtschyna
    12th March 1999

    Review Equipment
    DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
    Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
    Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
    Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
    Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer