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2005 film loosely based on DC / Vertigo's Hellblazer comic books.

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Umm, Who Told Keanu Reeves He Could Act?

  • Apr 9, 2006
Pros: Visuals, Ms. Weisz

Cons: Keanu Reeves; direction; plot

The Bottom Line: In the end, as the credits roll, there isn’t much of a story in Constantine, there are far too many loose ends and tangling story lines.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

The Struggle. On one side, Good, the other side, Evil. On one side God, the other Satan known in some circles both Greek and Christian, as Lucifer, the Devil, the number one Evil-doer. It is a struggle as old as mankind, which by the way is considerably older than six thousand years. Constantine (2005) plays off the Holy Bible’s Book of Revelations, sort of. It seems that God and the Devil have entered into a little agreement wherein the Earth is neutral territory and demons and angels and not allowed…and did you know that there is a Bible in Hell?

Directed by newcomer Francis Lawrence, Constantine stars Keanu Reeves (My Own Private Idaho, Speed, A Walk in the Cloud) as John Constantine a demon hunter who can visit Hell, converse with “half-breeds” (demons and angels who have mated with humans), drive “soldier demons” out of humans. If fact he has sort of a reputation as a demon-slayer. At a very young age, Constantine could see demons and the true nature of half-breeds. His parents thought he was crazy and in a moment of desperation he committed suicide (but was brought back after 2 minutes), and we all know that those who commit suicide are confined forever to Hell.

So, John Constantine, who is dying from acute lung cancer, because he smokes 30 cigarettes a day, is looking for redemption from a God he has little respect for. At one point when asked if God has a plan for us all, Constantine responses the “God is like a child with an ant hill, he has no plan.” He exorcizes the demons as a path to said redemption but there is little hope that he can avoid Hell when he dies. But, there is change afoot (isn’t there always); it seems the Devil’s son wants to claim the Earth as his own private playground, breaking the agreement between God and his father. The only problem: he can’t ascend to Earth without the help of a human who can “see” demons and the blood of God (who knew God bled); in the form of the spear tip that laid Jesus to rest.

Enter Rachel Weisz (Stealing Beauty, The Mummy, Enemy at the Gates) portraying Angela Dodson and her twin sister. Angela is a police detective who also sees the others though she has suppressed the ability since childhood. Her sister Isabel was not so lucky, and after being locked away, again, she commits suicide by jumping off a rather tall building through a skylight and into a pool. Of course she goes straight to Hell. But no before calling out the Constantine for help. Thus Angela and Constantine are destined to work together in an attempt to foil the Devils’ sons’ plan to inhabit Earth.

There are other bit players in the highly caustic drama, including Djimon Hounsou (Amistad, Deep Rising, The Four Feathers), as Midnite the neutral player in the story; and Tilda Swinton (Vanilla Sky, Adaptation, The Chronicles of Narnia) as the Archangel Gabriel who plots to betray God and unleash the spawn of the Devil.

The complicated hagiography of Constantine is based on the DC/Vertigo comic book Hellblazer and a novice—like myself—to the world of Christianity will find the story a little hard to follow. Of course I do not subscribe to religious dogma, period, no matter who is casting about the rhetoric, so Constantine is fiction bordering on mythology in my book. But the story is compelling nonetheless.

One of the weak links in this movie is Mr. Reeves. I have never though much of his acting skills outside of the Matrix films; throughout the entire movie I was asking myself who Reeves wanted John Constantine to be. Reeves attempt to play the character as a cross between The Fonze and James Deans’ Rebel without a Cause, did not exactly wash with me. Ms. Weisz was a littler better, but admittedly there is not much dialog in this movie.

Another weak link is former music video director Francis Lawrence who seems to favor dramatic image over narrative and thoughtful dialog. The man should stick to music videos, no really…In his world the days are seared by burning sunlight, and the (true) night belongs to the demons. And Hell is portrayed as an earth burning with the nuclear fires of Armageddon, crawling with mindless (literally) demons, and damned humans who are ripped apart over and over again as penance for their transgressions on Earth. In the end, as the credits roll, there isn’t much of a story in Constantine, there are far too many loose ends and tangling story lines.


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More Constantine reviews
Quick Tip by . February 05, 2012
Sure, this film deviates from the source material by making John Constantine American instead of British. Sure, it changes its setting and backdrop. Sure, it doesn't have the gritty, dark, often uneasy tone and mood set in the Vertigo comics....But I would be lying if I said that Francis Lawrence's interpretation of the comic character wasn't fun to watch. (I have read the series since its inception) It made the changes to cater to a more mainstream audience and non-readers …
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Keanu Reeves kicks ass in this film following a excercist in his battle against the devil himself.
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
suprisingly good movie. interesting story that makes you actually want to see the rest.
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Keanu Reeves kicks ass in this film following a excorist in his battle against the devil himself.
review by . December 23, 2008
Loosely based upon the dark comic book and graphic novel series published by DC Comics/Vertigo, Constantine is a supernatural thriller with amazing visual effects, thrilling action, and a great cast. Unfortunately, the film's screenplay, which was written by Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello, fails to capture the spirit of the books. Rather than keeping the characters as they are in the books, the writers have taken liberties that minimalize the effect of the story. In the books, John Constantine …
review by . December 30, 2009
Hell breaks loose in L.A. and there's only one man who can saves us, Constantine....
Constantine is not your usual supernatural thriller, no Constantine breaks all the rules that the genre has put in stone, it breaks down the wall and builds a new one based on it's own mythology. And may I say that it does a n amazing job at that.         This film is not something I usually watch, in fact I was very skeptical when I deiced to view just to see if it was any good, boy was I surprised! Constantine was amazing!! This film blew my hair back and took my …
review by . April 11, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
A lot of people are saying that Constantine is wrong because Keanu Reeves is wrong for the part but I see it differently. See I'm no fan of Reeves and I actually think of him as a dry and predictable actor that always acts the same in every film. The stories he gets and his supporting cast is so good that they make him look even better and he gets a high price tag. Constantine needed an actor to play the character as a mean, intimidating, and vicious loner and who better to play that than a man …
review by . August 11, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
For fans of the comic book on which this movie is based -- "John Constantine: HELLBLAZER" -- it will doubtless be a disappointment. I myself am an avid reader of said comic, and when I think of how much better the movie could have been...SHOULD have makes me a little sad. For one thing, the John Constantine of the comic lives in London, not Los Angeles, and this is a critical difference, both for the character and the story. Constantine is supposed to be British through and through, and …
review by . May 14, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: The most unusual 'quit smoking' regimen I've seen anyone use!      Cons: Drags a bit, potential to be overwhelmingly broody, and a bit choppy in places.      The Bottom Line: More grown-up than Hellboy, the Bottom Line is useful in banishing those pesky demons!      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Have you ever felt watched when no one was there, or felt like the rope …
review by . July 23, 2005
The trailer for CONSTANTINE made it looking vaguely intriguing: majestic wingspan lifting above Gabriel's head, murky derring-do in the streets of Los Angeles, the presence of Tilda Swinton (always involved - until now - in interesting dramatic films), Rachel Weisz, Djimon Hounsou, and yes, Keanu Reeves. So what happened?    Director Francis Lawrence should stick to his prior experience with making music videos. After the first few minutes of this tired and monotonous script …
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Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #77
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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With the ability to identify angels and demons as they exist on Earth, Constantine (Keanu Reeves) is tormented and set apart from other people. He is self destructive and angry, yet he does the right thing in protecting the citizens of Los Angeles from the dark forces that surround them. However, when he falls in love with a cop (Rachel Weisz), everything begins to change.

In the grand scheme of theological thrillers,Constantine aspires for the greatness of The Exorcist but ranks more closely with The Order. Based on the popular Hellblazer comic book series, and directed with nary a shred of intelligence by music video veteran Francis Lawrence, it's basically The Matrix with swarming demons instead of swarming machines. Keanu Reeves slightly modifies his Matrix persona as John Constantine, who roams the dark-spots of Los Angeles looking for good-evil, angel-devil half-breeds to ensure that "the balance" between God and Satan is properly maintained. An ancient artifact and the detective twin of a woman who committed evil-induced suicide (Rachel Weisz) factor into the plot, which is taken so seriously that you'll want to stand up and cheer when Tilda Swinton swoops down as the cross-dressing angel Gabriel and turns this silliness into the camp-fest it really is. The digital effects are way cool (dig those hellspawn with the tops of their heads lopped off!), so if you don't mind a juvenile lesson in pseudo-Catholic salvation,Constantine is just the movie ...
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Director: Francis Lawrence
Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Release Date: February 18, 2005
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Akiva Goldsman
DVD Release Date: July 19, 2005
Runtime: 2hrs 1min
Studio: Warner Bros.
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