Underrated: Constantine (2005)

May 4, 2011 § 2 Comments

Dir: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Tilda Swinton, Djimon Hounsou, Shia LaBoeuf, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Peter Stormare 

I really loved you in Bill & Ted

A cracking horror/fantasy, based on the Vertigo/DC Comic ‘Hellblazer’.  Diehard fans of the comic book were disappointed by the changes – the original John Constantine being blonde, British (with Liverpudlian accent) and resembling Sting. 

In the movie, John Constantine, played by Keanu Reeves, is quite a hard character to explain simply.  I suppose he is a sort of psychic detective who specialises in demonic cases.  He sees a world which is intertwined with angels and demons, and is a saver of souls, if you will.  However, his motive is not entirely selfless, and for those who are not familiar with the story, I will leave you to watch and find out why.   

The story evolves from the apparent suicide of mental patient Isabel, the twin sister of LAPD detective Angela Dodson (Weisz).  Unconvinced that her sister would actually commit suicide, due to her being a devout Catholic, Angela enlists the help of Constantine. 

What eventually enfolds is a fascinating and exciting battle to prevent Armageddon.  Yes, I know, we have encountered many a film about the End of Days.  But not like this one. 

Personally, I love this film, and contrary to many critics, think that Keanu Reeves did an excellent job.  His performance is actually quite subtle, a man who is bitter, cynical and fully aware of his fate.  Rachel Weisz, always excellent and always likeable, complete with a convincing American accent, plays her role with strength and vulnerability in equal measure.

The supporting cast is an absolute dream and all are extremely well placed in their roles:  Peter Stormare is fantastic as Satan, giving a deliciously different twist to the role.  Equally wonderful is Tilda Swinton as the androgynous Gabriel.  Djimon Hounsou is also excellent as Papa Midnite, intruiging and instantly likeable.  Also providing first-rate support are Pruitt Taylor Vince (hugely underrated character actor) as alcoholic, psychic priest Hennessey, Max Baker as Constantine’s weapons and folklore expert, Beeman, Shia LaBoeuf as Chas Kramer, Constantine’s driver/apprentice, and ‘Bush’ frontman Gavin Rossdale as half-breed demon Balthazar.

What makes this film so great is the combination of original ideas, great storytelling and brilliant cast.  It really has a great story behind it – with use of fascinating plot devices such as the Spear of Destiny.  The special effects used are also first-rate, and help to tell the story, rather than compensating for lack of it, which many other films seem to do.  It is filmed in a way that produces a constant atmosphere of dread – you always have that feeling that something is about to happen.  You will also end up thinking about Constantine and its ideas long after the movie is over. 

If you haven’t already seen this film, I urge you to seek it out on DVD.  Most films (let alone horror films) could only dream of having this much originality.

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§ 2 Responses to Underrated: Constantine (2005)

  • Roman Chance says:

    Finally someone who got this movie! I thought I was the only one who loved it. The casting was as flawless as the performances. This might have been camp with the wrong talent but became art instead. Combined with subtle and effective camerawork and perfect pacing I felt this movie has been terribly underappreciated.

  • Perfectly put – “This might have been camp with the wrong talent but became art instead”. Thanks for your comment, glad there are others who feel the same way.

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