film reel image

film reel image

Friday, October 7, 2022

The Devil You Know 2022 * * * Stars


"I think you know more than you're letting on". So says a detective in 2022's The Devil You Know. Mostly a talky pic with shards of brief violence and hazard, "Devil" unfolds like the slowest of burns as well, pure fiction.

Taking place in I guess, the less glamorous parts of San Diego (Padres games are mentioned), The Devil You Know refers to possibly the brother of the protagonist played by Omar Epps (as Marcus Cowans). "Devil" is a perfect vehicle for a seasoned, veteran actor like Epps. All disheveled and slouched over with the usual mannerisms, Omar carries "Devil" steadily in the same way he carried certain parts of 1992's Juice. As they say, the tension is in the shoulders, like a dude that did some time.

The Devil You Know centers around the grizzled Cowans, an ex-con who gets embroiled in some murders that might have involved certain members of his household. Cowans wants to stay sober and wants to go straight, but a certain clue (which I won't reveal) leads him to snitch by leaving an anonymous tip. That's when "Devil" turns dark, verbose, and dangerous, a sort of bickering, family Christmas movie but without the comedy and the yuletide cheer. 

"Devil's" littered screenplay about homicides, criminal loyalty, and family secrets gets recycled a bit too much. And the film with its sometimes uphill pacing, gives off whiffs of a TV miniseries. Still, The Devil You Know is somehow enthralling and unputdownable, a kind of mild noir with dusky tones and forced scenes that crackle. The cast is decent and I dug the icy, controlled performance of Michael Ealy (as top cop Joe McDonald). The ending (in two parts) feels a little abrupt but it's shocking like a sledgehammer on the comedown. Basically this devil "gets its due". 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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