SYNOPSIS: 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.
Director Yuval Adler (The Secrets We Keep, The Operative) has worked with some notable talent in his first three stateside gigs. Actors such as Noomi Rapace, Martin Freeman, Ryan Phillippe along with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura grace his CV, but Sympathy for the Devil sees his most notable pairing yet alongside the hardest working man in show business: Nicholas Cage – who also serves as producer here. It also sees him reteaming with Joel Kinnaman who appeared in his 2020 feature, The Secrets We Keep. His latest thriller sees the filmmaker maintain a consistently solid record but little sign that a breakout hit may be on the cards.
The Driver (Kinnaman) is on the way to hospital to see his wife who is imminently due to give birth to their second child; however, upon arrival he is unable to exit his vehicle as The Passenger (Cage) climbs into the back and forces him at gunpoint to drive away. What ensues predominately unfolds within the confines of a car as The Passenger begins to chip away at his captives resolve in a bid to gain an admission about their hidden past. Frustratingly, Adler fails to ratchet up the tension and claustrophobia that begs to be wrung from such a tightly contained locale and one can’t help but feel this could have been elevated by a more sweat-inducing screenplay.
Cage, never one to phone it in – despite what many a naysayer may say – rocks a red hair do to match his suit jacket, menaces, gurns and gets very annoyed whenever someone interrupts him. Sounds familiar, right? Maybe, but he is, as always, hugely entertaining, chewing up scenery like Pacman eats pellets. Sadly, Kinnaman fails to match his co-star’s enthusiastic performance. Seemingly mis-cast here, his portrayal of the family man with a secret falls flat and as a result this reviewer just couldn’t connect with or ultimately root for him.
Sympathy for the Devil blends elements of Locke and A History of Violence to deliver a satisfying, albeit forgettable movie that will at least tide fans of the Cage rage over.