The principal function of everything and everyone in The Devil’s Advocate is to give Al Pacino an opportunity to play the devil. That he does so with considerable style is among the few good reasons to watch this movie.
Al Pacino’s greatest strengths are his eyes and his voice. When it comes to delivering a long monologue, there are few in the business who can match him. A showpiece comes in the middle of this movie, when his character speaks of a colleague called Eddie Barzoom who sems to be coming apart. The rant is more about how the world is being taken over by greed and corruption which, from the devil’s point of view, is a good thing. It is intercut with a scene where Eddie is being mugged by a bunch of apparitions while he’s jogging in the park.
As I’ve done before, I quote a snippet here for your reading pleasure:
John Milton: You sharpen the human appetite to the point where it can split atoms with its desire; you build egos the size of cathedrals; fiber-optically connect the world to every eager impulse; grease even the dullest dreams with these dollar-green, gold-plated fantasies, until every human becomes an aspiring emperor, becomes his own God… and where can you go from there? And as we’re straddling from one deal to the next, who’s got his eye on the planet, as the air thickens, the water sours, and even the bees’ honey takes on the metallic taste of radioactivity? And it just keeps coming, faster and faster. There’s no chance to think, to prepare; it’s buy futures, sell futures, when there is no future.
The editing and background score in this scene quite effectively create a feeling of dread and impending doom. But all this is just percussion to Pacino’s vocals. The man is in top form here, and this rant would rank among his most effective.