Kevin Brodbin, Frank Cappello (Comic: Hellblazer by Jamie Delano, Garth Ennis)
Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Max Baker, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Gavin Rossdale, Tilda Swinton, Peter Stormare
R (For violence and demonic images)
There are things in this world we are never meant to understand. Constantine takes a stab at defining some of those things, the evils of the world.
Keanu Reeves plays John Constantine, a professional exorcist who works with the Catholic Church to send demons back to their own planes. In doing so, he opens himself to further temptations and eventually down a path that will lead him neither to heaven nor to hell.
His life becomes entwined with a young twin Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) who has recently had visions of her sister being pushed by a non-corporeal entity to her death from atop a church-run mental institution. The church denies demonic involvement but Angela seeks out Constantine to help her unravel the mystery.
John doesn’t seem to want to help her as he has his own internal demons to fight. However, when the blockade that keeps demons out of the world begins to break and they come looking for him, he has no choice. He uses every resource available to him to fight them on their turf and attempt to seal the rift once and for all.
Reeves has fallen into a rut. The Matrix” used his lack of emotional weight in any given performance and used it to full effect. He has begun to appear in more films with a similar tenor. Constantine is yet another husk of a film in terms of acting. Weisz poses alluringly and Reeves glowers at the camera, both with little effect.
The film’s only two saving graces are Tilda Swinton as the hermaphroditic angel Gabriel and Peter Stormare as the lascivious and lazy Satan. Each give a capable performance and, if it weren’t their lack of screen time, the Constantine’s acting might have been more interesting.
Constantine isn’t about the people of the story and only uses the story as a reason to blow things up. The best part about the film its willingness to take a religious perspective, get the facts right and then tear the entity apart. The Catholic Church has long been the subject of Hollywood films criticizing its irritating secrecy. Many films have come along to challenge the church and its practices but very few are incredibly memorable. This film falls into the forgettable category, even though what it has to say about heaven, hell and the church is suitably interesting.
The explosions and action scenes are mildly entertaining but nothing one couldn’t see in a crappy Jerry Bruckheimer film. Constantine is only saved by its willingness to let the plot unfold without being hampered too much by the violence.
Audiences are bound to pick this film up more for its action sequences than for its plot. The marketing of the film saw to that. It’s a fun movie and plenty of viewers will enjoy that aspect of it. However, for this critic, even the little bit of story there is makes it slightly more entertaining but not terribly much.
June 4, 2005