Sympathy for the Devil

A guy walks into a car and makes the driver admit his faults.

There’s a certain vibe inside “Sympathy for the Devil,” which works as a midnight film, especially with its two leads Joel Kinnaman and Nicolas Cage. It’s one I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Maybe it could be good based on Cage’s recent track record of movie redemption or it could be crappy. It think it’s a good movie.

I never watched the trailer for it, but I did see the poster which is in black and red. Could it be a horror film or a just a driving thriller? It’s just a driving thriller and a much better one than the Russell Crowe thriller “Unhinged.”

The story takes place in Las Vegas, and what isn’t a crime movie without being set in Sin City? Kinnaman stars as a man, whose wife is in labor, arrives in the hospital parking lot, and is held at gunpoint by Cage as a man with dyed red hair, who tells him to drive out of the hospital. He needs the driver to take him to Boulder City. But why does he need to go there? And what’s his deal with the driver?

There are many detours in this hostage situation, like cops, diners, and numerous phone calls from the driver’s wife. Could his family be in danger, too? And again, what does Cage want with Kinnaman? Really?

Cage says Kinnaman is someone who wronged him, but the latter tells the former otherwise. But he’s not buying it. He knows he’s trying to hide his real identity. After all, the movie follows a rule that not everyone is who they say they are. Is this driver really the wrong man or the right man the gunman is targeting? And if he is the right man, then why doesn’t he shoot him from the start? So the passenger can really examine him and get to him personally.

Parts of the movie drag on, like a certain chase sequence towards the end, and I don’t ever want to hear the passenger’s nightmare story again. But “Sympathy for the Devil” does have style directed by Yuval Adler, and it does have two entertaining leads. Kinnaman, in his first film role since “The Suicide Squad, does some good work as a man trying to hide his past and then being threatened by them. And Cage, whose last film was the under-appreciated “Renfield,” knows how to look and act crazy. The kind who would pick fights with cops, complain about menus with a “No Substitutions” policy, and really let out his anger.

It’s a cat-and-mouse thriller on a smaller scale, under the distribution of RLJE Films, and doesn’t take on the most obvious approaches. Only two names are given to one of the characters, and even if they shall remain nameless, it doesn’t mean we can’t get involved with their pathos. In fact, Kinnaman and Cage’s characters leave you thinking long after the film is over.

“Sympathy for the Devil” is not a great Cage thriller on par with “Red Rock West” and “Joe,” among others, but it is a good ride worth checking out. In your local art house theater at night. What better place and time to see it.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

In Select Theaters This Friday

This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes.

Categories: Action, Thriller

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: