CORPORATE LINE: John Constantine has been to hell and back.
Born with a gift he didn’t want, the ability to clearly recognize the half-breed angels and demons that walk the earth in human skin, Constantine (KEANU REEVES) was driven to take his own life to escape the tormenting clarity of his vision. But he failed. Resuscitated against his will, he found himself cast back into the land of the living. Now, marked as an attempted suicide with a temporary lease on life, he patrols the earthly border between heaven and hell, hoping in vain to earn his way to salvation by sending the devil’s foot soldiers back to the depths.
But Constantine is no saint. Disillusioned by the world around him and at odds with the one beyond, he’s a hard-drinking, hard-living bitter hero who scorns the very idea of heroism. Constantine will fight to save your soul but he doesn’t want your admiration or your thanks – and certainly not your sympathy.
THE GOOD: Like a recent trilogy Keanu Reeves was involved in, Constantine pushes the CGI boundaries and brings to life some stunning effects. In effect most of the CGI carries a film as there is little more to keep the viewer interested.
Rachel Weisz, Angela a cop who is investigating her sister’s death, is completely underutilized. Weisz thankfully is much more appealing than Reeves. Tilda Swinton is fantastic as the androgynous angel Gabriel.
THE BAD: Keanu Reeves plays Constantine who is little more than a tired, pissed-off, chain smoking Neo. Whether it’s Reeves lack of range or if it’s the way the character was written is impossible to say—however he never seems to do anything but play Neo.
As someone who isn’t familiar with the Hellraiser comic book series this review only judges the film as a stand alone. Plots pick up, and then disappear, stories never unfold completely leaving the viewer wondering why one door opened and yet never closed only to find a new door. Constantine’s sidekick (played by Shia LaBeouf) opens the film at Constantine’s side but all but disappears until the end. We witness an exorcism but even that falls by the wayside. Characters come and go, and most of the characters on their own are very interesting, yet we never learn anything about them and then they are gone.
FRANKLY: Constantine could have been great. The idea of trying to buy your way into heaven by fighting the madness of hell and the devil is truly engaging—or could have been engaging. The most important factor was being sold on Keanu Reeves as Constantine and that never happened.
+ Charlie Craine