Film noir meets big budget special F/X and...Keanu Reeves. Keanu plays big-shot exorcist John Constantine. He's only called in for the big jobs. He strides in with his detective outfit on; you know, ala Mike Hammer? White shirt, black tie, black trench coat blowing in the wind. He places his lit cigarette down on the dresser for the time being while he straddles a young woman possessed and calls out the demon by announcing, as only Keanu Reeves can, "I am John. John Constantine you asshole!" Brilliant.
Demons, angels, and those caught in between prepare for "something big" that is about to happen. Constantine has the ability to see what we cannot: the devil, demons and angels. His help is asked of a young cop (Rachel Wiesz) named Angela (of course) who is trying to figure out how her sister died. It was obviously suicide, but she is not convinced and asks John to help her discover the truth. It turns into a race to find out what is going on in our astral-plane before it is too late. Unfortunately, I never did figure out what exactly was going on or who in the hell these people he keeps talking to and meeting are. A very exclusive night club owned and operated by some kind of voo doo medicine man, an angel that I still don't know if she was good or a traitor to God. We're just forced to go with the flow, or lack-thereof.
OK, I got the gist of what was happening, but every movie that involves demons, God, the devil or for that matter werewolves and vampires has its own set of rules. In this film, the rules are set out for us right away, but someone is trying to break those rules. So we just follow John and Angela in a hell-bent struggle against the demons to stop whatever bad is about to happen from happening; all the while, John is facing his own internal demons (the real meat of the story that I couldn't care less about). In the meantime, lots of neat special effects. It was the only thing that really kept me in the movie. Without the gorgeous scenery, there would have been nothing. I liked seeing a really well done adaptation of what hell might look (or feel) like. I enjoyed seeing John do battle with a demon made up solely of house flies. A very vivid imagination was at work when this film was pieced together. And in that regard, pieced together very well.
I think most will find the film preposterous. It will find its niche with the occult lovers though. Constantine has all kinds of neat tricks and devices at his disposal. Kind of like a supernatural James Bond, or maybe more accurately a supernatural Macguyver; a baton that releases dragon's breath for example. Or, for instance, did you know that a strip of cloth from your shirt that is dipped in sulfer and lit on fire will explode in a huge burst of fire that will kill 100s of attacking demons but not harm the holder of said paper? Cool huh? Then there's always the classic staple: a good old fashioned vial of holy water. All of which look really cool with digital effects.
So "Constantine" has got a lot of things against it. It's central plot involves God and the devil...literally. It is a SFX spectacular and to top it off, it stars Keanu Reeves an actor that most find to be, shall we say...boring. So I think the average movie patron will shy away from this one pretty quick. Especially when I tell you how poorly connected everything is and almost confusing it can be at times. Put these two problems together and there is a total lack of suspensful drama or fear. Still, there is always something neat to look at. And, if caught in the right mood, might be all you need to have a good time. Think "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" without the teenage drama or cheesiness. Very evil with bigger effects and far more interesting antagonists. The devil, or Lucifer, by the way, is played by actor Peter Stormare (of Fargo and Lebowski fame) and performs an amazingly interesting take on what the devil may be like.
All in all it's a pretty entertaining movie. I know it's hard to believe after everything rotten I've pointed out, but if you get through the maze of a plot, the fingers-on-the-chalkboard acting and the fact that it is apparently adapted from yet another damn comic book, you may actually just enjoy the ride. Even if you don't really know where you're going or even where you are.
Oh look! they made a game based on Constantine. Surprise!
The book of revelation...or the end of the world as God battles Lucifer