Sympathy for the Devil
July 28th, 2023
MOVIE: SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL
STARRING: NICOLAS CAGE, JOEL KINNAMAN
DIRECTED BY: YUVAL ADLER
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
The one thing that Sympathy for the Devil has going for it is that it has Nicolas Cage. If your movie has a legendary actor, you’re halfway to something that works, but unfortunately, it does take a film crew to tango. This is a two-hander from director Yuval Adler about a man that is taken hostage by another man, and forced to drive around Las Vegas, while his wife goes into labor. What it becomes is a long belabored trip, which gives Cage a platform to perform, in a movie that should be better. Sympathy for the Devil runs out of gas and fails to capitalize on another burning bright performance from Mr. Nicolas Cage.
A strong performance from Cage in a bad movie seems to be the trend of 2023. Earlier the Oscar-winner dawned the cape and fangs in the underwhelming Renfield. Cage delivers an excellent take on Dracula but everything else around him is a sad mix of an action-comedy. The western The Old Way had all the right aesthetics surrounding Cage to send him back to the wild west but the story lacked an energy that usually lives in a Cage production. Here it is more of the same, where the setup works, and the performances are good, but the final result is a missed opportunity. If you’re going to give us a car ride with a madman then you better know how to make it work.
The premise is simple, with Joel Kinnaman as The Driver, a man that has finished his late-night work, and receives a call from his wife that she is going into labor. As he arrives at the hospital parking lot, he notices a man with bright red hair, leaning against the wall by the ER entrance. Before the driver can pull into his spot, the man with the red hair known as The Passenger (Cage) gets into the back seat of his car, and tells him to drive. “I’m not an Uber buddy”, states the driver, but soon the passenger holds a gun to his back and tells him to drive. What he wants is not clear, but what becomes transparent is that this is not a robbery or just a kidnapping for a ransom, but simply a kidnapping because he can.
From the technical side, Sympathy for the Devil has the parts needed to make for a nice two-hander. Director Yuval Adler keeps the camera tight in the car, only expanding in a few scenes outside the car, and when the passenger forces them to stop at a diner. The writing, however, from Luke Paradise feels precedingly limited. It begins with us not knowing if these two actually have a past connection and at times it seems like what Paradise is going for is a drive with death. If it stuck to that scenario, Sympathy for the Devil would work, but as the car goes around in circles, we continue to see just how limited it is in a story.
As expected though, Cage brings all that we can handle, including his delightful strawberry-red hair. He’s the reason to see Sympathy for the Devil. There’s just no other reason outside of that. It’s certainly thrilling to see two actors sparring, navigating the night, the clock ticking for someone’s life, and the potential of a night going off the rails. Instead, the story sputters and the major reveal in the final act is neither exciting nor shocking. I am open-minded about any movie that allows Nicolas Cage to play in his brilliant sandbox. Sadly, there’s not much Sympathy to be given on this missed opportunity, because it felt like we just went around in circles.
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL IS NOW PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS AND AVAILABLE ON DEMAND.
Written by: Leo Brady