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Film / The Devil's Advocate

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Kevin Lomax: What are you?
John Milton: Oh, I have so many names...

For the trope, see here.

The Devil's Advocate is a 1997 Thriller / Religious Horror film directed by Taylor Hackford and written by Tony Gilroy, starring Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron, Connie Nielsen, and Craig T. Nelson, based on a novel by Andrew Neiderman.

It follows the career of a lawyer, Kevin Lomax, as he gets entangled with the demonic forces that are helping him on the road to success. He ultimately faces off against the origin of this positive influence and the horrors of his own origin.

Notable for Al Pacino "CREATING AN ORGY INVOLVING ALL OF NEW YORK CITY!" And that's an understatement.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Mary Ann tells Kevin (and later recounts to Milton) that the only worse thing than having no Dad was having hers. But, it turns out Kevin’s dad is even worse …
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Adaptation Name Change: In the original novel, Kevin's last name was "Taylor".
  • All Just a Dream: In the final scene, it is revealed that Kevin saw the entire events of the movie in the moment before his career-defining case concerning a child molester. Once the case is over, however, the reporter he agrees to do an interview with is revealed to be Milton in a different disguise.
  • Ambiguously Human:
    • Both Jackie Heath and Pam Garrity are seen wearing demonic Game Faces when Mary Ann is alone with them, but it's left ambiguous as to whether they're actual demons or if Mary Ann is really just seeing things as a result of her ongoing Mind Rape.
    • Similarly, the two homeless men who beat Eddie Barzoon to death are seen with similar Game Faces; Mary Ann also happens to be watching this scene, suggesting that it could be a hallucination, but Milton has deliberately set things in motion so that Eddie ends up dead before he can turn on him, so they could also be supernatural in nature.
    • Christabella is introduced with a bizarre slow-motion sequence, during which her voice acquires a strange echoing reverb. Later, she inexplicably replaces Mary Ann while Kevin is trying to have sex with her, and it's left ambiguous as to whether this is the real Christabella or if Milton is playing games. At the end of the film, it's revealed that Christabella is the half-human daughter of Satan, indicating that she really did have supernatural powers of her own all along - much like Kevin.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Kevin's ferocious commitment to winning his court cases results in him defending some rather unsavory characters, and costs him his marriage. He also reveals to Milton that he won all his Florida cases by secretly listening in on how the jury was deliberating and making the proper adjustments.
  • Amoral Attorney: Satan himself runs an entire corrupt legal office with global connections, composed of immoral humans and his own demons. An explicit example is the protagonist, Kevin Lomax: while he does retain some moral qualms against defending a child molester in the beginning of the movie, he more or less completely eschews them and becomes this trope.
  • Angelic Beauty: The Devil briefly takes on his celestial form at the end after exploding into a fiery rage, essentially looking like Keanu Reeves with angel wings.
  • Anti Anti Christ: Kevin is the Anti Anti Christ, while his son with Christabella would actually be The Antichrist.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Milton is actually Kevin's father and actively seeks to corrupt Kevin to recruit him for his plans, even if he has to murder Kevin's loved ones to do it.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The movie opens in what is supposedly Gainesville, Florida—or, at least, what the filmmakers think is Gainesville, Florida, portrayed as a one-horse hick town in the middle of nowhere. In reality, Gainesville is a modern, skyscraper-encrusted college town (home to the University of Florida, the eighth-largest single campus university in the USA). Apparently, the producers wanted Kevin Lomax to be from a small rural town and picked Gainesville off of a map at random, not realizing that "small rural town" does not describe Gainesville, and hasn't for about a hundred years. The Civil War-era "courthouse" where the trial was taking place is actually in a one-stoplight town some 32 miles east of Gainesville, for example; the courthouses in Gainesville proper are all modern, multistory buildings.
  • Asshole Victim: Eddie Barzoon.
  • Babies Make Everything Better/I Want Grandkids: Mary Ann first wants kids because she just wants a family, but later she wants them as a remedy to her loneliness. When Kevin finally agrees to have a baby, Mary Ann finds out she’s infertile – likely due to Milton’s machinations. Milton later reveals that his ultimate plan is for Kevin to have a baby with his half-sister, Christabella, so they can produce The Antichrist. That doesn’t work out either.
  • Better Living Through Evil: Small-town attorney Kevin is offered a position with a prestigious NYC law firm, with the upscale apartment and huge salary to match.
  • Big "NO!": Possibly the Biggest No ever. It takes several cuts, several breaths, and causes the guy to burst into flames and then burn or desiccate anyone watching. Of course, this had to be Satan himself.
  • Bishōnen Line: At the climax, after erupting in a showy display of power and anger and briefly experiencing an ugly Glamour Failure, Milton sprouts angelic wings and looks just like Kevin but with long wing hair in his true angelic form.
  • Break Them by Talking/We Can Rule Together: Milton’s final speech to Kevin is a combination of these—convincing Kevin that Kevin himself was responsible for Mary Ann’s suicide and for getting off all the people he knew to be guilty, and thus he and Milton are alike, and convincing Kevin that he should agree to Milton’s plan to sire the Antichrist.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At the end of the movie, after the reporter turns into Milton, he turns to the camera and says, "Vanity, definitely my favorite sin."
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Satan wants his half-human offspring to mate with each other, as this will create The Antichrist and leave him with someone to manage his affairs on Earth.
  • The Cameo: Sen. Alphonse D'Amato, Ambassador Charles Gagano, and Don King all appear as themselves, and seem to be on very good terms with John Milton. Makes you wonder if anyone told them what kind of movie they were in ... if they were told, it's a rather extraordinary case of Adam Westing.
  • Casting Gag: Jeffrey Jones plays the law firm's managing partner, Eddie Barzoon, but it's not the first time he's played someone who works for the Devil.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A literal example. Alex Cullen starts carrying a gun after receiving death threats, which Lomax takes from him as it looks like a tacit admission of guilt. It comes in handy in the climax.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The reporter from the Florida courthouse, who's another face of Satan and is able to manipulate Kevin twice. "Vanity, definitely my favorite sin."
  • Chewing the Scenery: Al Pacino's climactic meltdown is magnificent. The part where he seamlessly starts singing "It Happened In Monterrey" in Sinatra's voice somehow ups both the Fanservice and Squick of the scene.
  • Chocolate of Romance: Deconstructed by Milton, who tells Kevin that the feeling of love is chemically no different than eating a lot of chocolate.
  • Cool Old Guy: John Milton. Sure he's The Devil and even without that, a perfect example of a corrupt Attorney. However, he's suave, persuasive, can speak any language to perfect accuracy and is very rewarding to those that actually impress him. Much of why Kevin manages to get in his good graces so fast aside from being his son of course; is because he worked for it.
  • The Corrupter: Of course, the Devil is the ultimate corrupter. Why he doesn't just force people to obey him? He implies it's one of the checks God put on him: he can tempt, he can influence, he can manipulate, but ultimately he can't force anyone choose to side with him.
    Milton: I'm no puppeteer, Kevin. I don't make things happen; doesn't work like that [...] Free will. It's like butterfly wings: once touched, they never get off the ground. No, I only set the stage. You pull your own strings.
  • Death Before Dishonor: In the finale, Kevin Lomax is offered anything he could possibly want in exchange for participating in John Milton's plans; more to the point, his part in the plan involves impregnating Christabella his half-sister, in order to produce The Antichrist - and Kevin's been lusting after her for most of the film anyway. Despite clearly being tempted by the offer, Kevin can't bring himself to go through with it even after the moral decline he's suffered over the course of the story, especially since it'd mean betraying his wife, who's recently committed suicide thanks to his neglect. Instead, he opts to shoot himself, simultaneously depriving Milton of his victory and sparing Kevin from doing the unforgiveable.
  • Deathless and Debauched: John Milton is an increasingly obvious case of Devil in Disguise, and is seriously enjoying his immortality on Earth. Despite being the senior partner of a highly prestigious law firm, a good deal of his time is spent having fun: when he's not lounging around in his luxurious office, he's taking Kevin Lomax on a search for a chicken that can play Tic-Tac-Toe, attending parties without bothering to network, conducting orgies, spectating at boxing matches, dancing with a flamenco band, and enjoying a night out at a fancy restaurant (where he can be seen getting a blowjob). He's also enjoyed long-term sexual trysts over the decades and fathered many illegitimate children as a result though he doesn't reveal that Kevin was one of said children until the very end. However, it's eventually revealed that Milton is capable of being in multiple places at once, so dividing time between working, indulging himself, and corrupting Kevin is all too easy.
  • Devil in Disguise: John Milton. He's able to pass for human without fail, only dropping hints because he wants the protagonist (who is really his son) to find out that his boss is the Devil himself.
  • The Devil Is a Loser: Heavily downplayed. Milton has a successful law firm with many powerful people as clients, but what he desires is retribution against God and to rule the world. Which Kevin denies him at the end, leaving him to scream impotently.
  • Divinely Appearing Demons: Near the end, the Devil is briefly seen as the Angel Lucifer.
  • Doomed by Canon: Lampshaded by Kevin, who tells Milton that The Bible says Satan will ultimately lose. Milton responds by noting that the Bible may be biased given the author. This lampshaded even earlier, when Kevin’s mother is first introduced, singing a song in church that quotes Romans 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan underneath your feet.”
  • Dramatic Irony: The film assumes the audience knows from the beginning that Milton is the Devil but still creates enough tension from Kevin not knowing.
  • Driven to Madness: Mary Ann is ultimately driven crazy by Milton’s machinations, Kevin’s emotional distance, and finally by Milton brutally raping her.
  • Driven to Suicide: After being completely broken by everything Milton did to her, Mary Ann opts to gash her throat open with a chunk of broken glass rather than endure another minute.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Kevin and Mary Ann get drunk after Kevin gets Mr. Getty off for child molestation. While they act as though the drinks are celebratory, Kevin is really trying to numb his conscience.
  • Dying Smirk: Kevin grins big at Milton just before putting the gun up to his head and pulling the trigger.
  • Embarrassing Alibi: Kevin Lomax is representing a suspect who is accused of killing his wife; his alibi is that he was sleeping with his secretary at the time the killing was taking place. When the suspect protests that focusing on the affair will make the jury hate him, Kevin responds that it doesn't matter if the jury hates him as long as they believe that he was cheating on his wife rather than killing her.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • Satan, whose entire modus operandi is based on hatred, never considered that love would be important to Kevin, and that he'd remember Mary Ann as his best friend rather than as just a sex object and thus reject Christabella.
    • When Kevin is almost ready to lie with Christabella, he hesitates and asks: "What about love?" Christabella turns to Milton with a confused expression that says less: "Dad, help me with this" and more "What the hell is he talking about?". Milton comes in with his reassurance: "Overrated. Biochemically, it's no different than eating a lot of chocolate."
  • Evil Overlooker: An alternate theatrical poster shows the Devil looming over the protagonist and his wife.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Played with. Kevin must freely choose to accept Milton’s offer to sire The Antichrist, which shows the danger of free will—since Kevin can make that choice—but also its unpredictability—since Kevin is free also to not make that choice. Ironically (for this trope), it's Kevin's free will that defeats Satan’s plan.
  • Executive Excess: John Milton, head of the highly prestigious law firm of Milton, Chadwick, and Waters, somehow finds the time to drop everything and take Kevin Lomax on a search for a chicken who can play Tic-Tac-Toe, attend a party in which he takes part in none of the networking enacted by the other guests, and drag Kevin along on a tour of New York's nightlife featuring a boxing match, a night out at a fancy restaurant, and another party in which Milton is seen receiving a blowjob. All this when they're supposed to be getting ready for a trial. Of course, this turns out to be fully justified given what Milton really is: not only does he not actually need to sleep, but he's fully capable of being in multiple places at once, being witnessed working, corrupting Kevin, and raping Kevin's wife at the same time across the city.
  • Expy Coexistence: Cullen is clearly inspired by Donald Trump yet it's offhandedly mentioned that Trump was supposed to have attended the party at Barzoon's apartment but had a "business emergency".
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Charlize Theron's nude scene also reveals that she's covered in scratches because the Devil spent the afternoon raping her.
    • In the scene in the changing room, the Devil's girls strip down to their underwear while casually making Mary-Anne as uncomfortable as possible and...AUGH! BAD FACE! BAD FACE!
  • Faux Affably Evil: Milton, while being charming and polite, is also a sadist.
  • Funny Background Event: As Kevin and Milton walk through the streets of New York talking, a delivery man keeps pace behind them for several seconds carrying a box labeled "Halo Illumination".
  • Fur and Loathing: Some ladies wear fur, but as they are part of the law firm (or married to those in it), they are likely evil, or under the influence of evil.
  • Gas Lighting: And how! Milton to Mary-Anne.
    • Kevin is a victim of it as well. For all the talk about free will and how he chose everything, the ending reveals that, after failing, Milton will just reset everything and approach things from another angle, manipulating the circumstances until his victim "freely" choses to go along.
  • Ghost City: After Mary Ann comits suicide, the despondent Kevin emerges from the hospital, only to find the entire avenue (and, implicitly, the entire city/world) completely empty. Only Milton's assistant is waiting for him outside, she urges him to go to Milton, and then also vanishes. Apparently, this is supposed to be Devil's true realm - the world of desolation and solitude.
  • Glamour Failure: Double probably. When Milton, in his rage, lets out the shockwave that kills his daughter, for a brief moment he's seen through it as an ugly withered ghoul. His true appearance perhaps? Also, when his daughter dies, her form changes briefly into something revolting before being burned too much. Is it possible they are both ugly? She did mention having to wait a very long time. Is she some 300-year-old devil spawn?
  • Good Lawyers, Good Clients:
    • An integral part of Milton's master plan: create the most skilled Amoral Attorneys imaginable, put them at the disposal of the most despicable people in the world, and have them use the loopholes in the law to protect the guilty until the world is filled with human monsters, making the world his and his alone.
      Milton: Acquittal after acquittal after acquittal — until the stench of it reaches so high and far into heaven, it chokes the whole fucking lot of them!
    • At the end of the film, after the Reset Button is pushed, Lomax takes the trope to heart and dismisses himself from the defense of a child molester, which essentially wrecks his career, since it's unethical and illegal for a defense lawyer to do this in the middle of a case without permission by the judge or their client (both of which emphatically do not give it).
  • Half-Human Hybrids: Many of Milton's lawyers (being his bastard children by various women from around the world) are examples of this, and Kevin himself learns that he is one, too.
  • Heel Realization: Kevin has a small one when the FBI agent investigating Milton tells him a child was found in the car of the molester he defended.
  • Here We Go Again!: After the climax, when Lomax realizes that it was All Just a Dream, he is approached by Satan in different disguise, who again plays Lomax's vanity, albeit in slightly different way, with predictable results.
  • Heroic Suicide: Kevin kills himself rather than father The Antichrist.
  • Hollywood Law:
    • Kevin's courtroom antics wouldn't exactly pass the bar in reality. Some of it might be justified given the revelations at the end.
    • In the initial case with the child molester he presents some surprise evidence. This should have been presented during the pretrial discovery and would have resulted in sanctions against the defense and possibly a mistrial.
    • Kevin Lomax is established as a Super Lawyer because he's "never lost a case". We're told that in his early career he worked in the local district attorney's office and had a string of 64 straight convictions, and he "didn't plead out often". This would actually indicate that he's a terrible prosecutor. First, prosecutors get to choose their cases, so he could have a string of "sure thing" prosecutions. Second, prosecuting these cases to trial would clog up the court's docket when he should be making plea bargains with the defendants. Odds are, the bulk of his victories would have been mundane cases where the defendant was guilty as hell and took a deal. It's worth noting that some real-life prosecutors trump themselves up by this claim, which usually comes from dropping or taking pleas on any case with a chance of failure. In Milton's rage-against-God speech near the end he even lampshades how impossible it is for a lawyer to have never lost a case and points out how supernatural influences were a factor.
    • Kevin would not be disbarred for his actions at the end of the movie; in fact, he would be required to withdraw in that case as his client was using his services to further a criminal act.
      • Disbarred, no, but there's a good chance he'd end up in front of the Florida bar for doing so without the permission of the judge, and there would almost assuredly be a mistrial as well.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Kevin's first case with Milton's firm involves defending a man who was caught slaughtering a goat in the practice of Santeria. The actual case (and Kevin's defense of religious freedom) are completely plausible and justified. However, the client's use of a curse against the prosecutor and other hints at supernatural powers... stretches the imagination.
  • Humanoid Abomination: It's Satan, what did you expect? Given the extent of his powers in the film, (not to mention the creepy, writhing statue in his penthouse), his depiction flirts with Eldritch Abomination as well.
  • Identical Grandfather: The Devil's true form as a Fallen Angel has the exact same face as his male offspring. Justified, since he is a divine being and his son a Nephilim.
  • I Have Many Names: Pretty much word for word. Though Milton plays with this a bit. No need for the fancy titles, he just wants Kevin to call him "Dad."
  • Immune to Bullets: Kevin tries shooting Milton after the latter's Post-Rape Taunt, but he just laughs it off. This causes Kevin to finally realize that Milton is not human at all.
  • Important Haircut: Important, but not at all good. Mary Ann gets a haircut after prompting from Milton, and this just destabilizes her even more.
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: After Mary Ann kills herself and Kevin realises what he has to do, he heads for the final confrontation on foot, because Manhattan is suddenly and inexplicably uninhabited.
  • Ironic Echo: "Free will. Ain't it a bitch?" Kevin turns it against Milton by killing himself, causing Milton to have a hissy fit to end all hissy fits. "Free will, huh?"
  • Ironic Name: Christabella, aka "Christ the Beautiful", is the Daughter of Satan.
  • Joggers Find Death: When Eddie Barzoon goes for a jog in the park, he doesn't come back alive.
  • Keep It Foreign: The Spanish-speaking gangbangers that Milton teases in the subway speak Portuguese in the Spanish dub.
  • A Lady on Each Arm: Milton is introduced this way in one scene when he runs into Kevin in the lounge of their apartment building, with Christabella on one side and an Asian female lawyer who "flew in from Paris" on his other side.
  • Large Ham: "GOD!! IS AN ABSENTEE LANDLORD!!", accompanied by Milking the Giant Cow twice. Al Pacino would only take the part if he got to do a ten minute rant in the film's climax. Which ended up pushing TWENTY. Upon hearing that, the producers must have looked at each other, shrugged, and said; "Do whatever the hell you want, Al."
  • Laughably Evil: Milton is literal Satan with all the depravity and evil that comes with the title. But damn if he doesn't have some funny moments.
  • Louis Cypher: John Milton refers to the author of Paradise Lost, the original Sympathy for the Devil poem.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Milton is Kevin's father.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Milton, of course. He prefers to deal with problems with words. When accosted on the subway, he manages to redirect violence by informing the mugger his partner is having sex with one of his friends.
  • Married to the Job:
    • Before he signs on with Milton, Kevin is heavily invested in his career and his wife is just as enthusiastic about it. After moving to New York, though, Mary Ann becomes extremely lonely and eventually goes insane.
    • Jackie tells Mary Ann that when she wants to spend time with her husband, she has to set up an appointment.
    • As part of his Secret Test of Character, Milton advises Kevin to drop the case and spend time with his wife. Kevin responds by saying he's worried that if he drops the case, he may end up resenting her and “hate her for it.” Later, when Kevin blames Milton for Mary Ann’s suicide, Milton throws these words back in his face.
  • Meaningful Name: John Milton refers to the author of Paradise Lost, the original Sympathy for the Devil poem.
  • Mentally Unwell, Special Senses: After moving to New York with Kevin, Mary Ann's mental health begins deteriorating from isolation and paranoia, until she sees Milton's underlings sometimes showing demonic faces as if to taunt her. Interestingly, while they are depicted as fanatically loyal to Milton (AKA Satan himself), the film never confirms whether Mary Ann is hallucinating or if they're genuinely inhuman.
  • Naked Nutter: Mary-Anne Lomax's Sanity Slippage comes to a head when she randomly shows up in a church, shrouded in a blanket and clearly very badly traumatized. She eventually reveals to Kevin that she's just been raped by John Milton, but Kevin denies this as the perpetrator was in court with him the whole afternoon - whereupon Mary-Anne tosses the blanket aside, revealing herself to be completely naked and covered in bloody scratches. Despite being deliberately driven to a nervous breakdown, she was not imagining the rape; Milton is capable of being in two places at once, and later openly gloats over what he did to Mary-Anne.
  • Nay-Theist: Claimed by Milton in the climax.
    Milton: Let me give you a little inside information about God. God likes to watch. He's a prankster. Think about it. He gives man instincts. He gives you this extraordinary gift, and then what does He do, I swear for His own amusement, His own private, cosmic gag reel, He sets the rules in opposition. It's the goof of all time. Look, but don't touch. Touch, but don't taste. Taste, don't swallow! Ahaha! And while you're jumpin' from one foot to the next, what is He doing? He's laughin' His sick, FUCKIN' ass off! He's a tight-ass! He's a sadist! He's an absentee landlord! Worship that? Never!
  • Nephilim: In the climax Milton not only reveals that he's actually the Devil, but that he's been traveling the Earth to impregnate human women against their will. Kevin and Christabella are his half-human offspring.
  • Nobody Poops: When it is revealed that Milton's home consists of a single room, which appears to be a rather large office, Kevin is surprised and wonders where Milton sleeps and where he has sex. Nobody in the scene ever brings up the question of where Milton relieves himself.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Reeves starts off his performance affecting a passable Southern accent, appropriate for Kevin Lomax's Florida background. It vanishes rather quickly.
  • Obvious Second Choice: Evidently, the filmmakers wanted to end the film with "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones. In the end, they settled for the less appropriate "Paint It Black".
  • Obliviously Superpowered: Kevin Lomax is legendary for having never lost a case in his legal career, even though he's also never used methods like plea bargains or picking deliberate winners. He often downplays this, attributing it to natural talent, lax judges, or being able to eavesdrop on juries - though Kevin is unable to satisfactorily explain how he just knows the weaknesses of potential jurors during jury selection. It's not until the end that he discovers that he's actually the son of John Milton AKA Satan, who gleefully points out that supernatural powers are the only possible explanation for Kevin's success.
  • One-Winged Angel:
    • Almost literal, as Milton transforms into a Fallen Angel at the climax (albeit with both wings).
    • His minions, too, occasionally enjoy flashing fanged grins out of their otherwise perfectly human faces.)
  • Parental Incest: It's less-than-subtly implied that Milton is sexually involved with Christabella, eventually revealed as his daughter; he feels her up at a party and she joins him and another woman for a threescore in his penthouse. Considering he's Satan himself, it would be surprising if he wasn't so depraved. Also his plan hinges on his children committing Sibling Incest to produce his heir.
    • As somewhat of a running theme, this is also the case with Cullen and his stepdaughter.
  • Post-Rape Taunt: "Well, on a scale of 1 to 10 — 10 being the most depraved act of sexual theatre known to man, 1 being your average Friday night run-through at the Lomaxes' household — I'd say, not to be immodest, Mary Ann and I got it on at about... seven."
  • Pride: The theme of Pride/Vanity as an engine of destruction runs all through the plot of the film, namely because it makes you careless and imprudent or just drags you into the affairs that will surely and painfully bite you in the ass. Even the father of the sin himself is not invulnerable to its pernicious influence. At one point, he describes it as his favorite sin and the most "natural" as it stems from a "love of self".
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Milton's climactic rant, and by extension, his entire existence.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Implied. After Kevin's wife Mary Ann has been Driven to Suicide and Milton offers Christabella as a replacement, she's adopted the same curly hairstyle as Mary Ann (whereas she had straight hair before this scene).
  • The Reveal: A man from the Justice Department all but spoon-feeds it to Kevin that Milton is a world-class scum enabler. He also reveals that Kevin's previous client just killed a girl. Milton is then seen grinning up at the murals on a church ceiling (or the camera) and dipping a finger into a fount of holy water, boiling it. Shortly afterward, the Justice Dept. agent is hit and killed by a speeding car.
    Milton-Chadwick-Waters is a little more than a law firm. But I assumed you knew that. Vagada Holdings? I'm sure you've heard of it. London, Kinshasa, Karachi: arms brokering, mostly. Munzer-Dietch, in Berlin, Djakarta: chemical weapons and toxic waste. Ivanco Limited, Moscow: money laundering for the eastern bloc. It goes on and on and on. Milton is into everything. Barzoon was coming in, Kevin. He was going to testify. DeSoto and Dibalista, Panama. That firm sets up bank accounts for judges in South America. Huge drug cases, murder, everything.
    ...I talked to some old friends in Florida this morning. The Gettys case? Eighth grade teacher? They found him yesterday! He had the body of a 10-year-old girl in the trunk of his car!
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: Averted here, as this version of Satan prefers the show tunes of Frank Sinatra.
  • Sanity Slippage: Mary Ann starts out as much of a go-getter as her husband, but between being becalmed in their huge apartment, the shallowness of the other wives, and the evil surrounding them, she unravels completely.
  • Secret Test of Character: Kevin's whole life has been this. Milton purposely impregnated a young pastor's daughter from the Deep South, so his son would be raised in the Bible Belt. Then each case Kevin took on raised the stakes of how far he was willing to go to win, despite knowing his clients were guilty. His willingness to get Cullen off for murder despite knowing he is guilty is the final test before Milton reveals to Kevin his true identity and plan. Mary Ann lampshades this at one point during her Sanity Slippage, saying, "This whole thing feels like one big test!"
  • Secretly Earmarked for Greatness: Shortly after the introductory trial, Kevin Lomax is approached by a representative of the New York law firm of Milton, Chadwick & Waters, who claims that they've been observing his career for some time and are considering him for an important position. Before long, he's moved from Gainesville to New York and is working directly for senior partner John Milton, representing some of the wealthiest and most powerful clients in the city. It's eventually revealed that Milton's had his eye on Kevin for even longer than initially indicated: he's actually Kevin's father, and he's been subtly grooming the young lawyer for an even more important position - the father of the Antichrist.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: The story focuses on Pride for the better part of the film (it is the devil's favorite sin), but the others are represented at various points throughout the film.
    • Kevin lusts after Christabella.
    • He also shows a bit of sloth in not actively doing what he knows is right during more than one case.
    • Greed rears its head in the riches that Kevin is granted... as long as he keeps bending the rules.
    • It could be said that envy is part of the reason that Kevin goes along with everything. He wants what others have in the field of law. The fame, the riches, the everything. No matter how he has to get it.
    • Lucifer tells him he could have stopped at any point and even gave him multiple options to stop, but Kevin didn't want to, showing his gluttony.
    • Lucifer goes mega wrath after Kevin makes his choice. "Free will."
    • As stated, pride is the whole point. It is the devil's favorite sin. Pleased to meet you, won't you guess my name?
  • Sexposition: While Milton and Kevin have their final dialogue, Christabella undresses herself in order to seduce Kevin. Kevin refuses her. The dialogue continues, while she just keeps standing there completely nude, apparently to give the audience something to stare at while all this talking goes on.
  • Shown Their Work: When Milton loses it after Kevin kills himself, rather than turn into a demon, he sprouts white wings. Satan, by most accounts of biblical lore, was a former angelic being prior to his banishment from Heaven.
  • Slashed Throat: Mary Ann does this to herself . That scene is probably more disturbing than all of the previous face-morphing scenes combined.
    • Easter Egg: The way she holds the piece of glass and does the cut - it's the hand grip someone uses with a steel knife, not the natural movement holding the glass with fingertips like a razor blade. This, alongside cutting from left to right, and herself kneeling with tightly held together legs, makes up the ritual gesture of feminine Seppuku. Which is done to avoid being raped and defiled. She didn't kill herself for having been Driven to Madness, she did it consciously and purposefully to avoid being enslaved by Milton and his demons. Poor Kevin understood the message too late.
  • Spoiler Title: We keep spoiler-tagging that John Milton is Satan, but... c'mon.
  • The Story That Never Was: The movie ends with Kevin Lomax deciding to screw fate and killing himself to destroy the Devil's plans for world conquest. Then he suddenly finds himself back at the courthouse at the start of the movie before he made the decision that would lead to him meeting and ultimately working for the Devil. He chooses differently this time, thus undoing all the film's events, but it turns out that the Devil is still watching him...
  • Super Breeding Program: Satan's big plan is have Kevin conceive The Antichrist with Christabella - his half-sister.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Much of Milton's Villainous Breakdown is pretty much played for tragedy. The music alone sounds like something out of a tragic death scene.
  • Trumplica: Craig T. Nelson's character is an obvious Expy of Donald Trump, down to living in The Donald's personal apartment in Trump Tower. Much like in The Cameo above, it's unclear as to whether Trump was aware of what the film was actually about.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Milton views Kevin this way at the climax, when his plot is foiled by Kevin shooting himself. ("HAVEN'T I GIVEN ENOUUUUUGH?!")
  • Villainous Breakdown: After Kevin kills himself, Milton literally erupts into flames in anger.
  • Villain Has a Point: Milton may have poked and prodded Kevin along just a bit, but he's not entirely wrong when he says Kevin had every possible chance to save Mary Anne even before Milton raped her. He just cared more about himself than her.
  • Villains Never Lie: Combined with Exact Words, however, since Milton tells Kevin that he merely "sets up the scene" said set-up includes him using supernatural powers to manipulate time and perception until he finally gets the result he wants, giving the impression that he doesn't affect free will because he actually can't, and not because he refrains from doing so. His claim of not being a puppeteer is only Metaphorically True.
  • Villainous Incest: The film implies a sexual relationship between Satan and his female offspring. She certainly has no moral boundaries regarding offering herself to her own brother to create The Antichrist, with the Devil being the one proposing the idea to his son. Then there's that scene where Kevin sees her and another woman making out in an elevator before going up to Milton's apartment for a presumed threesome.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • Milton marginalizes Eddie as Kevin becomes more prominent and then has Eddie killed when he hints that he might cooperate with Federal investigators against Milton.
    • Milton essentially does this to Christabella, who he burns up as part of his rage-filled Villainous Breakdown. It's not clear if her death was intentional or whether this was Collateral Damage.

Vanity. Definitely my favourite sin.


Call Me Dad

Of his many names, Al Pacino prefers Dad to Satan.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / IHaveManyNames

Media sources: