Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. 100
    Writer and director Carl Franklin ("One False Move") scores a triumph in using the brooding atmosphere and racial tension of the sun-kissed, seedy City of Angels to reveal character and reclaim a neglected past that ace cinematographer Tak Fujimoto brings to vivid life.
  2. 100
    Director Carl Franklin, who also adapted the screenplay from Walter Mosley's prize-winning novel, isn't particularly concerned with the machinations of mystery plots. Nor is he seduced by the temptations of noir visual style (although Tak Fujimoto's camera work is plenty stylish).
  3. 100
    It's the film's glowing visual qualities, a striking performance by Denzel Washington and the elegant control Carl Franklin has over it all that create the most exotic crime entertainment of the season.
  4. In the process of drawing audiences into the twists and turns of a knotty detective tale, Mr. Franklin and his cinematographer, Tak Fujimoto, open up an enticing and languorous lost world.
  5. Franklin's picture is effortlessly wise beneath its entertaining surface.
  6. 90
    Few films are more assured in their storytelling or build more forcefully, irrevocably toward their resolution.
  7. Reviewed by: Terrence Rafferty
    90
    A modest, skillful, unfussy genre piece that tells an exciting story and lets its more serious concerns remain just below the surface, gently complicating the smooth-flowing rhythms of the narrative.
  8. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    80
    Writer-director Carl Franklin's cool, expert adaptation of Devil in a Blue Dress, Mosley's first novel, evokes the spirit of '40s film noir more effectively than any movie since Chinatown.
  9. What's most memorable about it is the period flavor, including a detailed and precise account of the jim crow complications blacks had to contend with.
  10. Reviewed by: Robert Faires
    78
    On the mean streets, Devil is okay; but it's something special when it gets to Easy's street.
  11. 75
    The movie is entertaining on its own terms, and Washington's warmth at the center of it is like our own bemusement, as together we return to the shadows of noir.
  12. Washington, no surprise, is terrific, his sensitivity offset with touches of knowing, self-deprecating humor.
  13. Franklin juggles it all with wit and style, and suddenly you feel fine that this is only Mosley's first Easy Rawlins novel. Several more are just waiting to be adapted.
  14. 75
    Easy isn't much of an acting challenge, but Washington's mix of charm and intensity creates an appealing personae.
  15. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    70
    What stays with you finally is not the mystery's byzantine twists and turns, which are fun but don't resonate very deeply. It's the time, the place, the palpable feel of community. [2 Oct 1995, p.85]
  16. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    60
    Compared to similar genre offerings, this ain't much cop. But standing alone, it's an entertaining and amiable film.
  17. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    60
    On its own terms, the plotting of "Devil" is absorbing, and the pieces actually fit together pretty decently. On the other hand, when scenes directly call to mind similar ones in "Chinatown," this effort's stepchild relationship to the classic is forcibly demonstrated.
  18. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    50
    It's a hoary Chinatown knock-off wrapped in a seductively novel black-culture veneer, with a dash of Laura added for bad measure. [29 Sept 1995, p.01.D]
  19. A bland, workaday detective flick that should have been much better than it is.
  20. Everything is aces about this lineup's pedigree. But Devil never lets loose. It's a jazzy composition about sex, sleuthing, corruption, race, and cheap liquor that's a half step out of tune.
  21. The story soon lapses into familiar private-eye formulas, though, and the characters aren't interesting enough to hold much attention on their own.

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