I know what you’re thinking: “Constantine? You mean, that non-movie that came out a few years ago with Keanu Reeves battling demons while trying to maintain the balance of good and evil on Earth? That Constantine??” Yes. That Constantine.
Plus, the fact that you could actually remember a summarized plot of this film, ten years hence, is quite impressive. Trust me, though, there is precedence for this review. Mainly the fact that it’s been a decade since its release AND that it might not be as bad a movie as most people (and probably some good old-fashioned intuition) may lead you to believe.
Constantine follows occult detective and Theodore Logan look-alike, John Constantine, as he faces off against a supernatural threat to the world. He is joined by Detective Isabel Dodson, played by the ever-awesome Rachel Weisz, who is investigating the apparent suicide of her twin sister.
This film, like all films nowadays, is based on a comic series. In the graphic novel world of Hellblazer, John Constantine is actually from London, has a thick cockney accent and is drawn to look like the prominent singer/songwriter/Desert Rose-r, Sting. As you may have surmised, Keanu Reeves doesn’t really fit into any of the above criteria. Therefore, never having read Hellblazer actually helped me look past Constantine’s inaccuracies to the amazing-ness within.
The real heroes of Constantine are Director Francis Lawrence (Catching Fire, I Am Legend) and his cinematographer, who I’m just going to make a wild guess and say was Phillipe Rousselot. This was the director’s first full length feature and you couldn’t say that by looking. The film is shot incredibly well with some beautifully composited frames. Balance is an important theme to the plot of Constantine and almost every scene is bookended with shots of visual symmetry to reiterate said theme. Also, that flame-thrower shotgun was super cool.
Let’s talk about the script for a minute. It’s a safe distance from a truly terrible script (Read: It’s a safe distance from Taken 2), but it has some glaring issues that could have contributed to the lack of repeat viewings. The plot is fairly convoluted which makes Constantine a film you need to watch a few times to fully appreciate. The best part about it, however, is the third act. Honestly, it makes the movie for me. Most of the wild exposition and strange plot tangents come together in an expertly crafted climax. Moreover, Peter Stormare as Satan is just the tzatziki sauce on the lamb gyro – which is a dish I liked way better on my second try.
“Constantine is actually a better movie than it has any right to be.” Adam Savage – of Mythbusters fame – once said this in a random interview. It’s pretty much the best way to describe Constantine. In short, the film is sort of like Star Wars Monopoly. On paper, it really shouldn’t work and yet, like Star Wars Monopoly, it simply does.