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Buy the book Constantine

(Dir: Francis Lawrence)

Reviewed by: American SyCo - SimplyScripts Lead Film/DVD Reviewer

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In the tradition of Al Simmons, Max Payne, and Paul Kersey comes the newest anti-hero, John Constantine. And while he may be a badass, I wish that the movie itself would have emulated him just a bit more. Still, if your looking for a movie about a paranormal investigator fighting demons with a big f*****g gun (and trust me, you do not want to turn towards "Alone in the Dark" to satiate your needs), than you really can't do any better than "Constantine."

Based off of the Vertigo/DC comic book "Hellblazer" (one of the few graphic novels I never really got into), "Constantine" is all about chain-smoking P.I. John Constantine and his special "gift" of being able to enter the "world of the fallen" (I.e.: Hell). The story (of the film) begins when the Spear of Destiny (the weapon that was ultimately used to kill Jesus Christ) is uncovered in Mexico, giving its recipitant the powers of Satan himself. We quickly move to L.A., where we get to see one of the coolest excorism scenes since, well, "The Exorcist."

This is where we meet Constantine whom is played fantastically by Keanu Reeves. Every word he says comes out like it's his last breath (considering he smokes as much as he does, this is technically true). Having just been diagnosed with lung cancer, all John does is light up another cigarette and keeps on moving (after all, if you could see demons everywhere you turned, wouldn't death be a release)?

He is soon tracked down by L.A. police officer Angela Dodson (played by "The Mummy's" Rachel Weisz), whose twin sister recently killed herself... though, she expects otherwise (in truth, she's actually only half right). The duo team up and go to Hell and back... and back to Hell, and back to Earth... and then one final romp through Hell, through Heaven, and finally back to Earth.

What makes "Constantine" good is its incredible cool factor. As stated earlier, Reeves does a great job, and any critic who says that he is playing the same character as Neo is selling his performance way short of its proper due. And to Weisz's credit, she is very believible as a normal person thrown into such an unbelievible situation. And finally, we get one of the coolest Satans ever put to celluoid in the form of Sweden-born Peter Stormare. Though he is only in the film for a total of twenty minutes, he absolutely makes this movie. His calm and collected conversation with John Constantine during the climax of the film is the coolest calm-and-collected-conversation-during-the-climax-of-a-film since Beatrice Kiddo dueled with Bill.

What takes "Constantine" down a few notches is that things just kind of... happen. While first-time director Francis Lawrence does a fantastic job for a first-timer, I wish things just flowed a bit better. There where quite a few times when I just had no idea what was happening until maybe fifteen minutes after the fact, which was a bit distracting (though this could also be blamed on a weak script). On an acting level, the only person that truly bugged me was Shia LaBeouf as Constantine's apprentice Chas Chandler. He has some of the most annoying one-liners and seems to be there only to appease the thirteen and under crowd. [SPOILER] Luckily, we will not be seeing him in a sequel... unless they bring him back as either an angel or a demon [SPOILER END].

In the end, this is a movie that relies heavily on its cool factor which should tell you if you will like this or not. Luckily I did, but I still realize that this is not a film for everyone.

*Quick update: apparently there is a very insightful snippet after the end credits that you may want to stick around for. I did not know about it, so I did not see it, but from what I hear, it is very dissapointing to me (you'll know why if you read the spoiler above).

*** out of ****

Copyright American SyCo 2005

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