The Devil all the Time is a 2020 movie directed by Antonio Campos starring Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson. It follows a southern man as he goes on the run from killing a corrupt preacher. This movie is ok. It has a relatable and likable lead protagonist, as well as some interesting villains, however the action is fairly terrible and the whole movie feels like a poor imitation of a Coen brothers film.
The Devil all the Time follows a couple of different stories in Ohio and West Virginia right after World War 2 and right before Vietnam. First, there’s Willard Russels story. He returns from World War 2, gets married, and has a child named Arvin. However, after he and his wife die, Arvin becomes the main character of the story. There’s also a corrupt sheriff named Lee, who has a sister that kidnaps hitchhikers with her husband and murders them. After Arvin murders a corrupt preacher who sexually assaulted and led to the suicide of his sister, he is forced to go on the run, and ends up interacting with all the other characters and their stories.
I really liked how we learned about each of the characters before they interacted with each other. It makes the scenes more than just a chance encounter when we know who each character is. Additionally, the contrast between Arvin being a good man just trying to do the right thing, and every other person in the story trying to bring him down and corrupt him was interesting, and it made me like the character of Arvin. I felt like I knew him, and his actions throughout the film felt very realistic given that I knew his past and upbringing. Also, I loved Robert Pattinson in this movie. He plays a creepy preacher who causes Arvin’s sister to commit suicide. My eyes were glued to him whenever he was on screen, and I felt they killed him off a little too soon.
Speaking of killing, the action in this movie, for the most part, is pretty terrible. Although the scene where Arvin beats up the bullies is actually pretty good, the other action scenes are pretty awful. This movie is clearly taking inspiration from a film like No Country for Old Men. However, in that film, the directors stretch out the tension as much as they possibly can before releasing it when character finally start shooting at each other. The Devil all the Time missed that memo. Characters shoot at each other with little to no buildup. There’s no tension, very little shock factor, and frankly, the shootouts are boring in this movie. With perhaps the exception of the final shootout between Lee and Arvin, as in that scene they actually do build up tension somewhat.
Overall, this film feels like No Country for Old Men lite. However, it’s simply not as good. It’s got good villains but not anyone that rivals Anton Chigurh, and the protagonist, although good, can’t hold up this whole movie. It’s painfully average, and there are much better movies worth watching.