Sympathy for the Devil Review

Sympathy for the Devil
Sympathy for the Devil
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Americans have been taught by film acting realism to laugh at excessive overacting. This is especially true when it comes to Nicolas Cage, who has ironically been popular since the early 2000s with what is known as “Cage rage”: those moments in which he literally pushes himself beyond all acceptable bounds. And yes, it gets absurd when the tone of the portrayal does not match that of the movie. But if Cage simply does his thing, everything will be okay. Sympathy for the Devil knows this.

Just from its title, one would think that this is a horror flick but with red and black dyed hair, suit jacket and all along these lines indicate Angel Heart/ “Louis Cipher” (say the name out loud). And while at times this flick seems supernatural during its fast-paced ninety-minute runtime, in most cases it’s just another crime thriller that weighs on monologues, mistaken identity, and vintage soul songs which become a great company on road trips.

“The Driver” is portrayed also by Joel Kinnaman as an ordinary guy who finds himself driving up Las Vegas Boulevard on his way to a hospital where his second baby (he doesn’t even know whether he will be having a boy or girl), with an unknown wife laboring there. As soon as they get inside he parks into one of them grabs his bag then roots through it only to find himself being approached by The Passenger who is played by Nicolas Cage and holds him at gunpoint from behind. “Drive,” he says.

The Driver pleads with The Passenger to let him go: He has a family please just take me back there or else she might die due to emergency operation etc. The Passengers could care less about these reasons though. They drive further away from town into the desert. Most of the film takes place inside The Driver’s car after they have driven off; so for almost another hour, it’s nothing more than a two-character movie. There is no doubt that Kinnaman can handle himself as far as this script is concerned; he was best known for playing Linden in The Killing and Takeshi Kovacs in Altered Carbon as well as Rick Flagg appearing in the Suicide Squad movies. However, much of his role consists of him looking nervously at the rearview mirror while Cage monologues behind him – and this suits him perfectly.

The actor must have liked something about Luke Paradise’s screenplay because he is credited as a producer on the film (which let me tell you does not always happen given how many movies Cage makes each year), and this is the first script Paradise has had produced. And Cage screams his lines with all of his energy, driving Kinnaman crazy with his insane ravings. A few miles into their drive, The Passenger starts needling The Driver to tell him who he really is, which adds a layer of intrigue: Is The Passenger misinformed or is there something that The Driver isn’t sharing? Finally, they end up at a diner near the road where things escalate into an explosive bloody Tarantino scene.

The fact that we are dealing with classical crime cliché becomes obvious in the resolution between both The Driver and The Passenger. Nonetheless, once again “The Driver” loses its steam from then onwards. What gets us there is probably very much worth watching because of what Nicholas brought to his performance.

The Passenger is a disorganized, potentially deranged ex-con and an individual from Boston with a strange accent who enjoys displaying his weapon without safety catch on and Cage uses every trick up his sleeve in pursuit of the part. He leads the audience through ups and downs, ranging from pitifulness to fury that gushes forth as his eyes almost pop out of their sockets. Nevertheless, the representation also carries an honest element of unpredictability: Campiness briefly enters into a scene where Cage dances to “I Love the Nightlife (Disco ’Round)” but returns to menace before laughter can really settle.

Otherwise, Sympathy for the Devil looks like it could have been shot by any other competent movie crew – that’s not really a boast. The grading is standard digital orange and blue while most of the cinematography is unnoticeable save for several slow-motion shots that stick out like sore thumbs. Furthermore, the budgetary allocation in terms of effects and overall production value is laudable for such a film with what we may consider a modest budget This team knows how to plan around its resources properly – including letting Nicholas Cage play his role.

Final Thoughts

Sympathy for the Devil is your usual indie thriller, except that Nicolas Cage takes on one interesting role as some mysterious superhuman gunman kidnapping family man into Nevada’s desert pulp fiction style. While Kinnaman does a good job as a straight man holding up against the menacing performance by Nicholas Cage playing the manic character there remains something predictable about where this narrative ends up though getting there is enjoyable with suspense all way long.

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