Constantine
Starring:
Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton
Directed By:
Francis Lawrence
Grade
B-

For those not in the know, Constantine is based on the comic book series, Hellblazer, which comes from DC Comics more mature lines of comics under the Vertigo label. As with most comic-book stories, Constantine has it's hook: Constantine has the ability to see half-breed demons and angels that hide behind illusions that normal man can not see. He goes about performing exorcisms on these wayward entities, sending them back as a form of penance in hopes that he may one day be allowed back into heaven. Why you ask? Well, besides being a complete ass to just about everyone, Constantine committed suicide but failed to stay dead, which means when the cancer that's eating away at his lungs finally kills him, he'll be sent to Hell, a placed filled with demons awaiting his arrival like prisoners in a jail awaiting a cop gone bad.

The actual story behind the movie picks up when Detective Angela Dodson (Weisz) shows up to ask for Constantine's aid. Her twin sister, who was locked up in a psyche ward because she told people she had psychic powers, has committed suicide and Angela believes that, in fact, she was murdered. This leads both characters into a a series of events which reveal a deeper, more sinister plot in which the son of the devil plans to be born on the mortal plain. I would reveal more, but that would ruin the path in which the story takes for the viewer.

The story itself proves to be deep enough to be entertaining without being overbearingly complex. There is more than enough demon/religion action to keep the theme of the movie rolling along. Paranormal activities constantly pop up, keeping the film's mood rolling along without dropping the viewers out of the story's world. Those looking for something complex or thought-provoking may come away disappointed as the bulk of the story stays on a surface level, only dipping down every once in a while to feign depth.

Acting-wise, the cast gives an all-around solid performance, though many of characters never really get a chance to be deeply established. Keanu works well as the cynical anti-hero and Weisz plays a soulful cop coming to terms with herself and the world Constantine reveals to her. Most of the secondary cast is adequate, performing their standard tasks in progressing the story. I could have done without Shia LaBeouf, who feels completely tacked-on for the sake of having a wisecracking sidekick, something Constantine doesn't need. One standout is Tilda Swinton as the angel Gabriel, who proves to be a more interesting and conflicted character as the film progresses.

On a production level, the film has some good ideas that never get enough fleshing out to really be successful. The direction and cinematography are good, but they fail to really make the mood and atmosphere as thick as it could be. The sequences where characters are drawn into hell prove to be interesting and show promise, but these are rare.

I would have to say that Constantine is an enjoyable flick to watch just to kill a few hours. It has enough action and the story never slows down enough to bog viewers down with details. While I wish that there had been more depth and atmosphere in the telling of the story, the film works in providing some good entertainment.

- - Vane

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