Nic Cage is at his Cagiest here with random screaming, intense eye contact, and an accent you don’t want to miss. Film’s not half-bad either.
REVIEW: 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.
PLOT: Sympathy For The Devil will constantly play with your expectations from the opening frame. Every bit of information given, is a means to manipulate you into thinking one way or another. And this is what makes the film is so interesting, even when very little is happening. Because it allows you to examine the small moments that have the potential to snowball into much bigger ones. And even as I say that, I wouldn’t be shocked to hear that the film is polarizing to audiences. But aren’t those some of the best?
Like most cat-and-mouse thrillers, there’s a lot of reliance on the chemistry between the two leads in Sympathy for the Devil. Thankfully, this film has Nic Cage and Joel Kinnaman in those roles. Cage’s performance is one that may seem odd at first, but the more the film goes on, the more it makes sense. Sure, you have to be a fan of unhinged Cage for it to land, but I am, so it did. Even so, there are some intense moments where Cage strikes a more subtle chord. And I love his Boston accent which comes and goes in the more heated moments but leaves a big impact. Joel Kinnaman gives a layered performance as The Driver that will only improve with repeated viewings. The less said of his character, the better.
The biting dialogue is where the film is at its most entertaining. Whether it’s Cage talking to a police officer that just pulled them over or Cage talking to a waitress about cheese on a tuna melt. Really, Cage talking about anything here is absolute gold. I could have watched this man interact with people for the entire duration. Then there’s Las Vegas which always serves as such a great setting due to the city having a personality all its own. This is more on the outskirts but the glimpses really help to create an interesting visual language, whether through reflections or downright neon signs.
Sympathy for the Devil will likely play entirely different on a rewatch. And I find those to be some of the most fascinating types of films as they allow you to dissect them in a unique way. Because, unless you have a terrible memory, you’re never going to have an experience quite like that first viewing. And yet, this film still manages to hold up on another watch. Which, to me, says that it’s a well-thought-out and executed twist. And I have a hard time even calling it that as it’s just a natural progression of the story. But even still, it’s a massive spoiler, so I won’t be getting into it here and highly suggest you avoid it.
If you’re going into this wanting amped-up Nic Cage then you’re going to enjoy yourself for the most part. But be prepared for plenty of slower moments and a lot of talking between the Driver and the Passenger. There are some story beats that are sure to make some people squirm in their seat. But ultimately, this is a character piece where the actors are really given some room to work. And sometimes that’s all you need to make for an interesting time at the movies.
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL releases to theaters on JULY 28TH, 2023.