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February 2005

By Julian Roman

Constantine

Distributor: Warner Bros.
Director: Francis Lawrence
Producers: Lorenzo DiBonaventura, Akiva Goldsman, Benjamin Melniker, Lauren Shuler Donner, Erwin Stoff, Michael E. Uslan
Screenwriter: Bevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello, based on the comic book "Hellblazer" by Jamie Delano & Garth Ennis
Cinematographer: Philippe Rousselot
Composer: Brian Tyler
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LeBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Max Baker, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Gavin Rossdale, Tilda Swinton, Peter Stormare


   

 

   

Keanu Reeves has made quite a career of doing big-budget science fiction and fantasy films. He rarely misses, but for all The Matrixıs success, there have been some real stinkers like the abysmal Johnny Mnemonic and equally awful Chain Reaction. Constantine unfortunately fits into this latter category. Itıs a bewildering mess of special effects and truly horrid performances. Reeves and co-star Rachel Weisz, reunited from Chain Reaction, look completely lost in the script. They have terrible chemistry and are incredibly wooden on screen. The only thing that works in Constantine is the barrage of demonic imagery. The production design is very good and the filmmakers spent the money to make it look awesome. I just wish they paid as much attention to the story and character development.

Reeves stars as supernatural detective John Constantine. He tried to commit suicide in his youth and is eternally damned to hell because of it. Constantine tries to redeem himself before God by battling the Devilıs minions on Earth and in Hell. Rachel Weisz plays twin sisters Angela and Isabel Dodson. Isabel dies under mysterious circumstances and Angela, who is a police detective, investigates to no avail. She enlists the help of Constantine to find out what really happened to her sister. What they find is a conspiracy that could lead to the destruction of man.

There are two things that really bother me about this film; beyond the bad acting and story. The first is that Constantine has an endless supply of bizarre weaponry that continually saves their lives. No matter what situation they are in, he pulls out some religious artifact that can kill every demon in the room. The plot never explains where he gets this stuff and what it means, especially the weapon he uses in the climax. You can get away with doing this once or twice, but it happens throughout the film and thatıs sloppy script work. Second is the annoying presence of Constantineıs sidekick Chas (Shia LaBeouf). Heıs put in for comedic reasons and single-handedly brings the entire film down with his silliness. He has no place in a story this dark. Shia LeBeouf is popping up as the ³sidekick² in these films and he needs to be careful. Type casting is the dagger for an actorıs career. Who could forget his memorable performance as Will Smithıs sidekick in I, Robot.

Constantine is loosely based on a series of cult comics called Hellblazer. Iıve never read them, but have been told the movie is completely different. Itıs doubtful that disgruntled comic book fans will have any effect on the movieıs box office. Constantine will appeal to people that are looking for big explosions and cutting edge special effects. Normally I would be satisfied by the high production value, but the weak script and poor performances really brought this film down.