A Film Review By Jason L. King
|Rating:Rated R for language, Violence and some disturbing images
Starring:Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz
Directed By:Francis Lawrence
After taking a long sabbatical from the movie world, I tossed myself headlong into the grips of the movie gods once more, wasting my time and my buck on few movies for the sake of my loyal readers. Six hours later, I come bearing news. Since I last wrote a review, which was Hide and Seek, few things have changed. We are still trapped in the springtime Hollywood doldrums where the movies in the theaters are as cold as the weather outside. The secret is to find the few nuggets of greatness hidden amongst the list of letdowns. I thought I might have found that nugget by taking in a showing of Constantine. The problem was, after it was all over, I still don’t know if I succeeded.
Constantine is yet another movie adaptation of a comic book character. Digging deep into the comic book underground the story of Constantine is the tale of a man named John Constantine who fights the demons of hell here on earth. As a young boy, Constantine saw visions of demons which drove him to suicide. Due to his Catholic Upbringing, suicide kept him from heaven and sentenced him to hell. Problem with it was Constantine survived his suicide. Now trying to earn his way into heaven, Constantine fights Satan’s demons from defying what he calls “The Balance.”
The makers of Constantine sought out Matrix Star, Keanu Reeves, to play the DC Comics chain smoking demon slaying , John Constantine. Reeves, who in real life is a jittery chain smoker just like his character, does a great job in this dark anti-hero role. He is cold and calculating, and other than a few cheesy uttered lines, Keanu is on the top of his game. His co-star the always lovely Rachel Weisz does a decent job as well. Character build up is by far the best thing about this tale. The makers of the film make sure that we as an audience cares about Jon Constantine, even though deep down inside we know he is a very unlikable man. Constantine is a man whose inner demons (his alcohol addiction and his chain smoking) are beating him down twice as hard as the demons around him are. None the less despite his unlovable nature, you like Constantine because the movie does a nice job of playing him up as a good guy, despite his cold nature.
The story is definitely an interesting one, and the idea of a battle between God and Satan for the souls of all of mankind makes for an interesting tale to say the least. The problem with the whole story was many times I felt the plot lacked explanation or detail for some actions by the story’s minor characters. The film jumped from disjointed story to story and tried to tie it all together in the end. Unfortunately the dragging disjointed plot line felt as though it should have long been over before the climax had started. I remember looking at my watch 1 hour into the film thinking it should have been over already, and being very surprised to find out that I had a long way to go yet. The more this film droned on, the more the film felt as though it lost it’s focus, and it’s interesting special effects etc. Visions of “hell” were cool the first time, but just like in the Blade Films (in which you see blade slice up more vampires into ash than you will ever need to see), Constantine does the same thing with the same effects.
I also couldn’t help but feel as though the film was a 2-hour JEL ad, talking about how smoking kills and causes diseases like lung cancer. As Constantine lights up a cigarette and slays another demon, I couldn’t help but think of one of those insane Jel Activists stetting up the Q&A podiums across the street, and eventually shouting at Keanu, “Mr. Constantine, You don’t want the demons to kill you but why then do you inhale that demon smoke into your lungs? Can’t you seethe corporate demon is killing you?” The “smoking is bad!” hints are there if you look for them, and It gave me a very good laugh.
In the end, Constantine delivers 2 hours of entertainment, but doesn’t really pack any long lasting punch. It has solid and interesting characters with great character development, but it forgot to bring a great plot with it as well. I wanted to like Constantine more than I did. I felt cheated by the film. I guess I wanted something a little darker with a little more explanation. Constantine just didn’t deliver. Problem with that was, No matter how much I didn’t like the film’s plot and will never watch Constantine again, I know I would be fooled into watching a sequel to the film if Keanu was still attached to the project. Maybe it’s a strange love for Keanu, or maybe it is my newfound love for the Constantine character that makes me want to pick up a few more “anti-hero” comic books. Conclude what you like, but while Constantine fails on one level, it succeeds on another. I wouldn’t rush out to theaters to see it, but fans of the comic book films shouldn’t be afraid to pick it up as a rental later on down the road.