Based on characters from the DC Comics/Vertigo “Hellblazer” graphic novels, Constantine finds us firmly placed in the middle of a war for Earthly supremacy. A war in which the opposing sides are bigger than any of us could possibly imagine as Satan and his demons set out to rule despite God’s efforts, but there is one man fighting for the side of good that should not be underestimated, John Constantine.
Constantine has already been to Hell and back again after a suicide attempt at an early age, since then he has sought redemption for his wrongs. Equipped with the ability to see demons, half-breed angels, perform exorcisms and out and out fight the winning fight sending demons back to Hell, John Constantine certainly considers the fiery place a place he doesn’t want to spend his afterlife.
Unfortunately, things are changing for John, death is around the corner as his lungs are as black as can be thanks to his horrible smoking habit and on top of that things don’t seem to be too calm on the demon front as Hell’s minions seem to be trying to cross over and dominate the Earth, which is a clear violation of God’s and the Devil’s pact.
Constantine’s one conduit into solving the rise in violations is a grieving police officer, Angela Dodson (Weisz), whose sister has committed what appears to be suicide, but of course we all know better than that.
Does all this sound a little hokey to you? Well, it might, but you have to give it a chance as this comic book adaptation is much smarter than its predecessors. The story is drawn out enough for it all to be very much engaging, as it mixes gothic horror and sci-fi splendor with engrossing mythology. The only place Constantine falls short is in its sometimes slow meandering from scene to scene that could have been tightened up, plus don’t forget your usual amount of cheese.
Yeah, Constantine has some cheesy bits and it is too bad they all come in the final moments of the film desperately taking away from the powerful impact this movie could have ultimately made. Ill-timed finger gestures and a sorry bit with Tilda Swinton’s Gabriel character add more laughs to the ending of this film than necessary as the final minutes of the film are played out.
However, Constantine does have the creepy factor of an Exorcist film and its players pull off their roles flawlessly, even Keanu Reeves doesn’t disappoint as his wooden acting fits the bill of John Constantine and Weisz is equally satisfying on the acting level as well as the looks department providing a smart and engaging character that couples with Reeves’ quite nicely.
The one unexpected bonus is a good performance given by one-time Bush front man Gavin Rossdale whose marriage with Gwen Stefani must be improving his acting skills as well. Rossdale is given a central character as the menacing Balthazar and he lacks in neither ability or menace.
The dark nature of this film is likely to hurt its overall box-office potential, but that is what makes it so appealing to me. While it probably will not be able to reach the dollar levels Spider-Man 2 and X2 reached this one is surely going to be out to make some dough as Los Angeles never looked any more hellish.