Starring: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Gavin Rossdale, Peter Stormare
Director: Francis Lawrence
Keanu Reeves doesn’t get much credit for his talent as an actor, but slide him into the perfect role and you’ve got an instant winner. (We all experienced what a black trench coat and a little bullet-time did for the actor as the sci-fi superhero Neo in “The Matrix” films.) Enter John Constantine, the eternally-doomed British exorcism detective from the pages of the DC/Vertigo comic book “Hellblazer.” Reeves doesn’t exactly do a great British accent (which is probably why he's opted not to use one here), but he definitely knows how to play doomed, and his dedication to the source material is a strong indication that he knows exactly what the fans will be looking for in the transfer from comic to film. Combine that with an original character, a solid script and a great cast, and you’ve got yourself a darn good comic book movie.
Reeves stands tall as Constantine, a loud-mouthed detective of sorts who spends his time beating back demons into hell when he’s not dragging on another cigarette. His chain-smoking has caused a demoralizing destruction of his lungs that constantly reminds him of his impending death, and after attempting suicide as a young kid, Constantine is damned to spend his afterlife in hell. To right the wrongs of his past and buy his way into heaven, Constantine has taken it upon himself to fight the demons that have begun to make their way on to Earth’s plains. Teaming up with police detective Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) to investigate the supposed suicide of her twin sister, Constantine travels through the world of angels and demons to uncover a plan that Lucifer himself doesn’t even know about.
”Constantine” wasn’t as great as I initially hoped it would be, but it offers an interesting story filled with colorful characters you mostly likely wouldn’t find in the average film. Tilda Swinton and Peter Stormare both turn in excellent supporting roles (as the angel Gabriel and Lucifer, respectively) and even Bush front man Gavin Rossdale is charming as the half-breed demon, Balthazar. As Francis Lawrence’s first feature film, “Constantine” has a few loose ends that will hopefully be answered in its imminent DVD release, but his past experience as a music video director served to enhance the film's noirish visuals. Reeves is the saving grace of the film (aside from his ridiculous Ted-like reading from the Bible in one scene) and has created a unique character that has the potential for future installments. For all fans of comic books, the supernatural, and even Keanu, “Constantine” will only whet your appetite for more.
Fans of Keanu Reeve's "Constantine" are going to want to pass on the barebones single-disc release, and spend the extra few bucks for the two-disc deluxe edition of "Constantine." The first set of the disc only includes the film and a full-length audio commentary with the director, producer, and writers of the movie, but it's the second disc where all of the fun begins. Disc two includes hours of extras, including almost 18 minutes of deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and numerous documentaries ranging from production feaurettes to director sit-downs. Also included in the set is a reprint of the "Hellblazer" comic book and theatrical trailers for the film.