Keanu Reeves playing a hero stuck between the real world, and a world that lies just beyond the imagination, with no possible chance of going back.
Gee, I’m sure I saw this already.
Based on the classic DC Comic ‘Hellblazer’, Constantine follows our main protagonist, John Constantine (who – conveniently – the movie is named after) as he tries to save the world from the coming of the Son of Satan, in an effort to get himself into Heaven.
I wish I was making this up.
He’s joined by Angela Dodson, who is investigating her sisters sudden suicide, which she believes to be a murder – little realising her sister was being groomed as a ‘gateway’ for the Son of Satan to pass through.
I will now light myself on fire.
For all intents and purposes, Constantine is a stock-standard action/sci-fi/comic movie, which just happens to be filled to the brim with religious artefacts, symbolism and familiar characters, including the angel Gabriel, Balthazar, and Satan himself, as well as comic book mainstays Chas, Hennessy and Midnite.
The movie itself has a great cast of borderline A-list stars, including Keanu Reeves (as Constantine), Rachel Weisz, Djimon Hounsou (another of my favourite current actors), Tilda Swinton, and Peter Stormare, as well as Pruitt Taylor Vince, Gavin Rossdale (lead singer of Bush) and Shia LeBeouf (who was also in I Robot).
The only real problem was this: the whole movie, including its storyline and religious overtones, were really a complete and utter load of drivel.
But it worked.
See, when the people who made this film decided to make it, they didn’t do so because of its great storyline. They did it because they knew it would look damn cool on a cinema or television screen.
Lets face it, Keanu is never going to win an acting award, and the religious thing has been done (check out Spawn or Hellboy, or even Blade, to a point). But demons and angels are attractive things to aspire to put onto a screen.
Hence, the real highlights of Constantine are the sets, the costumes, the look of the characters, and the computer graphics, which add another dimension to this film. Examples include Gabriel and Satan’s outfits, Balthazar’s offices, and the vision of the landscape of Hell.
If I had one major complaint with this film it would be the amount of clichés – remembering that Constantine was able to borrow from other comic book movies and other religiously themed movies, its fair to say that you’ve probably seen it before, or at least a variation of it.
Things like Constantine’s Holy Shotgun (a shotgun that fires solid gold bullets and is shaped around a crucifix) or the Holy Hand Grenades (water balloons filled with holy water – just like in From Dusk Till Dawn) are run-of-the-mill for the genre, and have been done before, and done better.
Even some of the lines, like Constantine’s revelation that “you should [believe in the devil]. He believes in you” feels like someone else has spoken it before (and that’s not even counting Keanu’s acting in this scene. He should’ve just added ‘dude’ to the end of the line – seriously, who would’ve complained?! Actually, Keanu should add ‘dude’ to the end of every line in every movie he is in).
Overall, Constantine is entertaining, but it lacks any real depth as far as story or character goes, and it struggles to show commitment to the morals and themes it is trying to get across to the viewer.
In saying that, it’s a very cool looking film, and, if anything, this is its saving grace. I give it a 5.5 out of 10, and would recommend it to anyone looking for an entertaining, but ultimately mindless, action adventure film.