'The Devil All the Time' strands its super-star cast in a grim Netflix thriller

'The Devil All the Time' strands its super-star cast in a grim Netflix thriller

The casting alone should spur interest in "The Devil All the Time" -- Batman (Robert Pattinson) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland), together at last -- but can't make the movie feel like less of a slog. Adapting Dale Ray Pollock's grim novel, awful characters proceed along parallel tracks, en route to a whole lot of violence and unpleasantness. Pollock actually serves as the movie's (frequently used) narrator, and he's a folksy natural, adding literary authenticity to director Antonio Campos' film. Yet other than attracting an inordinately good lineup of players -- many in relatively minor roles -- the dutiful nature of the adaptation drains much of the life out of the movie. Simply put, "The Devil All the Time" has the texture of a Coen brothers film, with a dash of "L.A. Confidential" in terms of the music and period. But despite its vivid rendition of the era and a small town with secrets like Knockemstiff, Ohio, it lacks the wit of those movies, and shifts around so much it's easy to become restless waiting for the lines to intersect. Indeed, those drawn by the aforementioned super-stars should be forewarned neither appears till more of a third of the way through the movie, which begins in 1957, flashes back to a soldier returning home from World War II and, before it's over, jumps ahead to the days of escalation in Vietnam, encompassing a roughly 20-year span. Covering that kind of ground presents a daunting task, one that might have fared better stretched into ...
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