SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL (2023)
Release Date: 07/28/23 [VOD]
Genre: Action. Thriller.
Studio: RLJE Films.
"After being forced to drive a mysterious passenger at gunpoint, a man finds himself in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse where it becomes clear that not everything is as it seems."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
In the city of sin, everyone is walking with their tail between their legs. There's a weight to each and every sin, and in a small film like Sympathy for the Devil, we see just how heavy these shackles are. Israeli director Yuval Adler comes to us with a semi-bottled thriller starring Joel Kinnaman and Nicolas Cage that looks incredibly slick in its night time photography, and captivates and exhilarates with the central performances; however, the good of the film is wasted away as the story is stretched too thin while playing coy and ambiguous for far too long, making Sympathy for the Devil a frustrating disappointment.
I do really want to give credit to Adler's technical team here. Technically, this film is very tight. It's edited very well, it's nighttime cinematography is some of the best night photography of the year(Michael Mann's Collateral influencing more than one corner of this film), and the sound work is quite understated with some fascinating small choices. Not to mention the central performances. Kinnaman has been evolving wonderfully as an actor lately, and his guarded and anxious performance holds its own up to the performance of Nicolas Cage which is ever so Cage-y and wonderful to watch.
The story, however, is entirely detrimental to the film's experience. Very reminiscent of Collateral, the film's acts as a upstage vehicle for our antagonist to do bis dirty deeds, but when it's down to diving more into the characters and seeing what their deal is, Sympathy for the Devil ends up playing it too coy and ambiguous for too long, and when final revelations are made, it's far too little and too late for anything to really make that much of an impact.
Films like Sympathy for the Devil make me sad because it's along the lines of many films that don't exactly realize their own potential with what they have. There could have been so much done with this story, but it feels like the film wants to walk a tightrope of being inspired by Collateral or being derivative of it. There are times where the inspiration is there and fassinating, and other times where it could have just written more into its own book. However, despite my qualms with the story, there's still much to walk away with the central performances, especially Cage who is utilized wonderfully with his unique rage and ever-so-demanding screen presence. Just a shame it's in a film that falls so flat.