This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the work of the writers and actors currently on strike, the film being discussed here would not exist.A car-jacking thriller starring Nicholas Cage AND Joel Kinnaman (Suicide Squad) is an easy sell. Both stars are incredibly talented, so the idea of them working together is enough to bring fans to theaters. However, while Sympathy for the devil delivers strong performances from its lead actors, the film is dragged down by a by-the-numbers approach to the story.
Sympathy for the devil follows David (Kinnaman) as he drives to the hospital after his wife goes into labor. Unfortunately, once David arrives at the hospital, he is taken hostage by a stranger in a red leather jacket and a trembling finger on the trigger of a gun (Cage). At first, David thinks he’s being robbed, but the stranger wants them to drive from Las Vegas to Boulder City. The film takes place during this anxiety-inducing road trip as David tries to escape and the stranger wreaks havoc wherever they go.
While David and the stranger will pass various people and stop at several places along the way, the essence of Sympathy for the devil it is the battle of the mind between the captive and the prisoner. Trapped inside the car, the two men play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, trying to explore each other’s vulnerabilities. The driver wants to go back to the hospital and make sure his captor won’t come after him or hurt his family. On the other hand, the passenger seems to have mistaken David for another person and continues to play sick games to force his victim to confess the supposed truth.
‘Sympathy for the Devil’ is more formulaic than scary
While it’s fun to see Cage and Kinnaman keep the tension going, there’s a lingering mystery to it Sympathy for the devil that fall short The story does its best to keep its secrets, with the passenger dropping hints rather than immediately revealing his true intentions. However, the experience of Sympathy for the devil it is not surprising. Instead, everything goes as expected, which can be disappointing considering the long build-up before the reveal.
Sympathy for the devil it also plays dialogue safe, relying on clichés that would sound flat if it weren’t for Cage and Kinnaman’s electric performances. When the film then tries to explore grief and trauma, the script’s approach to these themes is so crude that, by the time the credits roll, it feels like a film with nothing important to say. It’s a shame, as delving deeper into the psyche of its main characters could have elevated this formulaic thriller.
On the directing front, Yuval Adler also lacks giving Sympathy for the devil a unique voice. For example, a shaky camera adds nothing to the film. In addition, the framing keeps the characters too far away to capture the nuances of Cage and Kinnaman’s performances, which should be mandatory in a film so focused on human interactions. There is nothing visually striking Sympathy for the devil, even in the central scenes of the film. It would be a forgettable thriller if not for Cage’s unflinching take on his character.
“Sympathy for the Devil” taps into Nicolas Cage’s Gonzo energy
Nicolas Cage remains a unique personality in the Hollywood game because of his ability to play grounded characters or embrace the madness and be disappointed. For everyone pig in Cage’s career, there is one Ghost Riderand for each Leaving Las Vegashas a Renfield. However, while Cage shines best when he has a layered character to play, there’s no doubt that his legion of fans love when the star can bring his crazy energy to the set. Fortunately, that is exactly the case Sympathy for the devil.
As the mysterious kidnapper, Cage is tasked with showing just how dangerous the passenger is when he first appears on the scene. The star accepts the challenge, combining wide-eyed stares, wry smiles and sharp lines with each other to keep his prey on edge. So even when the story fails to come to fruition, there’s always something fun to watch Sympathy for the devil, thanks to Cage’s magnetic presence. In the best moments of the film, he sheds the mask of the passenger to show the pain he carries inside. Similar to MandyCage seems to have been hired to make everything wilder, yet the lingering humanity in his performance makes the character more relevant.
Kinnaman also deserves praise, perfectly embodying the distress of a man locked in a car with a Nicolas Cage on the loose. In any other film, the mismatch between Cage’s volatile role and the seriousness of Kinnaman’s David would stick out like a sore thumb. IN Sympathy for the devil, the discrepancy between the two main characters creates the necessary tension to keep the story going. It’s fascinating to see Kinnaman personify the misery of a man trapped in a situation he can never understand, as his captor constantly defies reason. Meanwhile, Cage continues to spread gleeful destruction. Sympathy for the devil we should be grateful for Cage and Kinnaman’s excellent dynamic as, without them, the film would be nothing more than a bland thriller.
The Big Picture
- Sympathy for the devil it delivers strong performances from Nicolas Cage and Joel Kinnaman, but its by-the-numbers story holds it back.
- The main focus of the film is the battle of wits between the captor and the prisoner, with Cage and Kinnaman bringing their A-game to the tense cat-and-mouse game.
- While the film is short on surprises and exploration of deeper themes, Cage’s unflinching performance adds a ferocious element that makes it worth watching.
Sympathy for the devil hits theaters July 28.