Written by Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Running Time: 2:00
for violence and demonic images.
Constantine was a visually entertaining, but ultimately slow, long and boring film.
John Constantine, for reasons known only to God and the Devil (and maybe Bob), can see things the rest of us can't. Instead of that being a good thing, it only means John can see half-breeds; half-angels and half-demons who walk the Earth, trying to get your soul to join their side. God and the Devil you see, have a little wager going about who can get your soul, but the rules state that neither of their more powerful workers can actually visit the realm of Earth. However, the son of the Devil appears to have other ideas and wants to destroy the planet. But in order to do so, he needs some help, and where he gets that help will surprise you. If you've never seen a movie before. Why is Constantine in the middle of this battle? He knows he's been sentenced to Hell after he dies, and he's doing all he can to win favor with God so he can enter Heaven instead.
The Devil apparently is a gay Frenchman. Go figure. Anyway, I had hopes for Constantine when I went to see it. Not high hopes, based on the trailers and commercials, but I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Not because I've read the books the movie was based on, because I haven't. Not because the director had made some big movies before, because he hasn't. I based my hopes on Keanu Reeves. Yes, I know what some of you are thinking, you don't need to say it. But I kind of like Keanu. True, he will never win any sort of acting award (unless you consider a Razzie a sought after award) but he has a likeability about him. And while I think for the role of Constantine he could have bulked up a bit, I think he did a decent job. His mannerisms were a good fit for the cancer-stricken demon fighter. I also have a little bit of a crush on Rachel Weisz so there was that angle as well. And I did like them both, it's just unfortunate they had to appear in a film that looked like it was created as a marketing tool for a video game.
The plot of the movie is very convoluted and very disjointed. Things would happen, then suddenly stop and we'd be somewhere else. The strange little Mexican man reminded me a little of Vincent D’Onofrio's character in the original Men in Black, but not as funny. At least not intentionally funny. Watching him jump up from a car accident gave me a little laugh. If I can piece together the plot, it seems that Jesus didn't die because he was crucified, but because he was stabbed while up on the cross. OK, I think I may have seen that in The Passion of the Christ, which will now become my new go-to when it comes to the death of Jesus. So the thing that stabbed him is now all powerful and grants the bearer some kind of power. Now Memnon, the son of the Devil (not sure who his mom was) needs that knife to come to Earth. But he also needs some kind of psychic help? Dionne Warwick wasn't available (how's that for a 90s joke?) so he picked someone else. And there was something about needing God's help. Not quite sure what was going on except poor Rachel had something growing inside of her that couldn't have felt good. I think if the story had been tighter and not had so many tendrils, I might have remained more interested.
Visually I enjoyed Constantine. I go for those gothic, end of the world type films with demons and a lot of red. The effects weren't anything that people haven't seen before, but they were well done, save for one scene in Hell where Keanu looked like he might have been being chased by those little M&M guys for the fear he had in his face. I really liked the music, which is something I rarely notice in a film. And I liked the supporting cast. Shia LaBeouf seems to like to take these supporting comic relief roles next to big time actors (see I, Robot) and Djimon Hounsou is just cool. I mean really, who has a cooler name in Hollywood? And then there was the suave movie debut of Mr. Gwen Stefani himself, Gavin Rossdale. Not a great actor yet, but looks good in a suit, even with half of his face ripped off. Oh, and Pruitt Taylor Vince may be the scariest man in Hollywood. Those eyes scare the crap out of me. They never stop moving! As I said earlier, the plot had too many things going on which made it confusing and therefore, not fun to follow. At two hours, the film runs a bit long and probably could stand to lose about 20 minutes. There is also an ending tacked on after the closing credits, so don't leave too early. Yes I know, the movie isn't that good, but I liked the extra footage. You can't go wrong in a cemetery, right?
With all that being said, I think Constantine has a good shot at becoming a decent video game. I generally don't play those kinds of games (I'm a sports gamer myself) but it has all the elements built in. You've got a big evil at the end of the game, you've got a good supporting cast, some great weapons, a lot of enemies along the way in the form of demons, some good looking visuals and a cool lead character. Whether it's a first person or third person game (is there a second person game?) I think it could work. I might not buy it, but I'd be more than happy to borrow it from someone for a week or so.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I'd take a pass on paying to see Constantine. If you're a Keanu fan or a Rachel fan, give it a shot, but otherwise it's not really worth it. I'm gonna probably end up seeing it again in theaters because a friend of mine is in fact a big Keanu fan, but if not for her, I'd pass.
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