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Movie Review: “SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL” Is Nothing To Sing About

Thursday, August 3, 2023 | Review


Starring Nicolas Cage, Joel Kinnaman and Alexis Zollicoffer
Directed by Yuval Adler
Written by Luke Paradise
RLJE Films

For some people, seeing Nic Cage go off the rails on screen is reason enough to watch a movie. SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL capitalizes on that truth and offers little else. The film begins with David (Joel Kinnaman) racing to the hospital to meet his pregnant wife, who has gone into labor wife. Just as he pulls into the parking garage, he gets carjacked by an odd-looking fellow (Nicolas Cage) from his backseat. The carjacker insists that David leave the garage and drive him to another location. As they drive along, the man talks to David. We slowly learn that this might not be a random abduction and that David might be in far more trouble than he initially thought. Giving his passenger the car or begging to be let go are not options.

Most of the first third of the film consists of the two men talking as they drive the Nevada highways. The main source of tension (aside from the gun in David’s face) is the fact that this kidnapper keeps insisting he knows David from somewhere. No matter how much he denies it, they cannot seem to get past that sticking point.

Admittedly, SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL starts to get interesting when the pair stop for food at a nearly empty roadside diner. However, it only gets interesting in that we get some actual action, rather than just talking, and we get to see Cage dance around with a gun in his hand. No additional story is added. No characters or their relationships are expanded – just Nic Cage dancing.

While Cage is certainly capable of incredible acting and can bring larger-than-life characters to the screen, he is not challenged to do that here. In recent years, he has truly leaned into his “Rage Cage” persona. Sure, it is fun, but it is not nearly enough to carry a whole film and keep it worthy of the audience’s time. In addition to this existing handicap, he uses quite possibly the worst Boston accent ever captured on film. The contest for bad Boston accents has a cinematic tradition of being a well-populated race to the bottom, but Cage, in SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL, might even be worse than Julianne Moore in 30 Rock. It’s distracting and unnecessary.

SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL has no new ideas or revelatory concepts. The acting is hammy at best, and the characters are disposable. There are a few fun moments of Cage crescendoing into indulgence that generally work and keep some scenes fun, but beyond that, there is not much to praise here.

SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL from RLJE Films is now playing in select theaters and on VOD. 

Deirdre is a Chicago-based film critic and life-long horror fan. In addition to writing for RUE MORGUE, she also contributes to C-Ville Weekly,, and belongs to the Chicago Film Critics Association. She's got two black cats and wrote her Master's thesis on George Romero.