Sympathy for the Devil
Critic Alec Toombs wishes movie was as wild as its leading man.
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In a year where Nicolas Cage has already played a gunslinger (“The Old Way”) and Dracula (“Renfield”), Satan seems like the next natural step. Despite being titled “Sympathy for the Devil” (available in select theaters and on VOD beginning Friday, July 28) and Cage rocking a sequined, red jacket, goatee and crimson locks, the actor isn’t following in the footsteps of Robert De Niro, Jack Nichoslon, Al Pacino or even Elizabeth Hurley in essaying the role of Beelzebub.
Joel Kinnaman is The Driver. He’s just dropped his young son off at his mother-in-law’s and is en route to the hospital where his wife’s about to give birth to their baby daughter. When pulling into the clinic’s parking garage The Passenger (Cage) hops into the backseat of The Driver’s car without permission. The Driver pleads with The Passenger that he needs to be by his wife’s side, but the rider’s insistent that he be driven to see his mother … so insistent in fact that he’s holding The Driver at gunpoint.
“Sympathy for the Devil” is directed by Israeli filmmaker Yuval Adler (he previously collaborated with Kinnaman on 2020’s “The Secrets We Keep”) and scripted by in-demand freshman scribe Luke Paradise (he’s got eight other screenplays in various stages of development).
I know I’m not supposed to review the movie I wanted to see as opposed to the one I got, but it’s hard to help myself here. I had my heart set on seeing Cage play Lucifer as opposed to a mid-level Boston Mafioso with a hilarious accent. I thought this was going to be a fantastical horror flick à la Cage’s very-fun and very-dumb “Drive Angry” as opposed to a more-grounded psychological thriller along the lines of “The Hitcher” or “Collateral.”
“Sympathy for the Devil” is a two-hander and both actors come to play. Kinnaman does an admirable job playing straight man to Cage’s crazed Passenger. Cage takes his mega-acting to 11 during a prolonged diner sequence (also featuring actor/production designer Burns Burns), which is worth the price of admission alone.
The highs are high and the lows are low with “Sympathy for the Devil.” The movie is only 90 minutes long, but feels far longer. Its repetitiousness grows extremely tiresome over time.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend “Sympathy for the Devil” to normies, but those who’ve made a habit out of watching Cage rage over the years should find plenty of freak flag-flying fun on which to glom. I just wish the picture was as wild as its leading man.