If you are a reader of the 'Hellblazer' comic series, you might have trouble ever accepting that John 'Constantine', the demon fighting anti-hero, who in the books was a stylish blonde haired British bloke that looked like a cross between Mickey Rourke and Sting, is being played by the very LA-ish Keanu Reeves. Fans willing to overlook this change, will find that 'Constantine', has enough sinister moments to save it from the abyss of comic book adaptations gone horribly wrong.
This movie follows John 'Constantine' a sort of mercenary for hire in the war between heaven and hell. 'Constantine' is blessed and cursed with the gift of being able to see the demons and angels who are locked into an eternal conflict, trying to gain sway and influence over humanity's soul. The look and feel of the 'Constantine' movie is sufficiently creepy and captures the morbid tone of the comic series from the late eighties. The depiction of Hell as a Southern California freeway in flames is both funny and frightening for any commuters who recognize the 101 at rush hour.
'Constantine' begins with an excruciating exorcism of a demon that is attempting to break on through into our world from the planes of hell it came from. The spooky tension and thrills from this wear out quickly in the second act when the 'Constantine' movie loses its way. The pacing becomes disjointed as we watch the cigarette addicted 'Constantine' stumble from one scene to another. This is a desperate attempt to cover enough background story so that you can appreciate the magnitude of the final battle between 'Constantine' and Lucifer himself.
Fortunately, Peter Stormare embraces his role as lord of the underworld, and his Lucifer brings 'Constantine' back to life at the end of the film.
The remaining supporting cast do their best to carry 'Constantine' out of the meandering plot sinkhole. The terrific Tilda Swinton portrays the arch angel Gabriel with just enough style and spite that for a moment, you almost do feel for the corrupt angel when she meets her fate. 'Constantine's' allies, including the dual parts played by the leading lady in distress Rachel Weisz, all do their best to bring the script to life through their acting, though two thirds through the movie still runs out of steam. Thankfully the final conflict comes together just in time to leave the cinema and go home.
'Constantine' marks the first release from the 'Vertigo' line published by DC comics. I hope that this movies shortcomings, won't prevent other Vertigo books such as Neil Gaimen's 'Sandman' or the 'Preacher' series by Garth Ennis from reaching the silver screen. Looking for a cigarette while waiting for the end of the world, for Movie Magazine, this is Purple.
© 2005 - Purple - Air Date: 2/16/05
USA - 2005