Movie Review: “Constantine”

Rating: R (violence and demonic imagery)

Length: 121 minutes

Release date: February 18, 2005

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Genre: Fantasy/ Horror

Stars: 3.5 absent of 5

Comic books swindle served as source material for the movies since the early Batman and Spider Biped serials, with modern movies following suit by bringing the biggest names in comics to big-screen life. Francis Lawrence bucks this trend, however, reaching out to a little-known character named John Constantine as the titular character of his 2005 action-horror picture “Constantine.” The film, starring Keanu Reeves in the leading role, is outlying darker than most laughable book movies, embracing a heavy, plot-driven storyline rather of wall-to-wall action, but static managing to produce a movie that attracts comic book lovers et alii aversion movie aficionados alike.

The film is taken largely from the pages of the comic, following a 1991 story arc written by Garth Ennis. John Constantine is a man with the expertness to carry with demons and angels, seeing their spiritual word in stark reality. With knowledge of the truth of angels and demons, he attempts to redeem an early sin about attempted suicide by acting as an exorcist to send the demons back to hell. His work generally involves half-demons and, after facing the attempt of a full-demon to break free from hell among the human realm, he tries to gain the aid of a half-angel, Gabriel, when portrayed by Tilda Swinton.

Constantine’s meeting with Gabriel does refusal go well, leading to a denial of his appeal for a get-out-of-death-free tarot to pursue demons, as well as an paroxysmal by a full-fledged demon as he leaves the meeting. The failed meeting drives Constantine to seek out notice from the other side done for a meeting with Papa Midnite, a warlock doctor, and Balthazar, a half-demon, who notify Constantine that hell is awaiting his death anxiously.

With no hard help from either side to keep the full demon safely barricaded in hell, Constantine begins his own investigation during which he meets Detective Angela Dodson, portrayed by Rachel Weisz. Angela is looking for help in solving the apparent death by suicide of hier sister Isabel. Angela is convinced that Isabel did not die by hier own hand, but those around her, including Constantine, see no reason to doubt the evidence. What Constantine does, however, is tell Angela all about the hidden spiritual word and the battle amid God furthermore Lucifer for the souls of mankind. In a surprising coincidence, Angela and Isabel were both able to behold the angels and demons, though Angela denied her own powers and had managed to suppress them.

Constantine’s inquiry leads him to the realization that the full-demon he is trying to stop is none other than Lucifer’s son, Mammon, who wishes to establish his own hellish kingdom on Earth. With this revelation, the combat between Mammon and his minions and Constantine begins in earnest.

While there’s nothing fresh about a battle for human souls between Heaven et alii Hell on the big screen, the comic book approach gives the plotline a completely new dark edge. Reeves is splendid as the cynical demon-hunter. His portrayal of a man early sentenced to Hell and lost to solve a way out through the exorcising of demons is well-played. The character has a blur side that makes the viewer wonder if he’s actually fighting for good, having lost about of his own compassionate life over the years. His allies are often as dark as he is, straddling the line precariously between option and wrong because they provide him with their often-dubious assistance. Rachel Weisz is the perfect partner for Reeves as Angela. She’s strong without becoming abrasive and just as desperate that Constantine in her own search for the truth behind her sister’s death.

This is director Francis Lawrence’s big-screen debut. His work before this was largely as a music-video director. There’s a music-video-like quality to the film, with quick cuts and broad scenes where the characters seem overpowered by the rooms that girdle them. Given the ultimate good-vs.-evil nature like the film, however, the large scenes feel appropriate and do to sell the smallness of the characters concerning Angela and Constantine when faced with the angelic and demonic forces.

Moviegoers should find “Constantine” to be an enjoyable modern horror film, with elements of fantasy and action tied in to keep the plotline interesting and to add account color. While the movie doesn’t stick closely to the story as presented in the comic books, the main character as play by Reeves brings enough of the core character to the screen to keep fans well satisfied. Overall, the film is a seraphic eschew flick, with a plot that’s engaging and amidst enough action to get the pulse racing.