“Constantine” is directed by Francis Lawrence which is directorial debut. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton, Gavin Rossdale, Djimon Hounsou & Peter Stormare. The film based on the DC Comics series, “Hellblazer” while the actual character was created by Alan Moore in the “Swamp Thing” series. Alan Moore’s other comics had been brought to the big screen but were massive disappointments, “From Hell” with Johnny Depp & “The League of Extraordinary Gentleman” with Sean Connery which resulted in Moore wanting nothing to do with this film.
In the Mexican countryside, a man find a sacred dagger wrapped in a Nazi flag. The dagger turns out to be The Spear of Destiny which lead to a spirit taking over him and leading him to Los Angeles. In L.A., John Constantine (Reeves) is called to help a young Filipino girl who is possessed by a demonic spirit. Constantine exorcises the girl and destroys the spirit. Meanwhile, an LAPD detective, Angela Dodson (Weisz) is informed that her twin sister, Isabel (also played by Weisz) has committed suicide. Refusing to accept her death as suicide, Angela believes that a far more logical explanation can be found. She crosses path with Constantine at a church. Angela meet with their old priest while Constantine meets the angel known as Gabriel (Swinton). Constantine tries to convince Gabriel for an “extension” of his life after discovering he has terminal lung cancer. Gabriel denies him claiming that he’s only killing demons for his own reason rather than the right reason. He then goes to Papa Midnite (Hounsou) a witch doctor who remains neutral between Heaven & Hell, for help regarding his recent kills. They are confronted by Balthizar (Rossdale) a half breed demon, who has his sights on Constantine after learning of his cancer. Angela continues her investigation which leads her back to Constantine. Alongside him, Angela goes deep into his world of demonic plagues, angels & spirits that will test & bend her mind & beliefs on what is real & what the after life brings to us even when they come face to face with Lucifer (Stormare), the Devil himself.
This is by far one of Keanu Reeves’ underrated film. It is a pretty good supernatural film with a very dark tone. Reeves delivers as the titular character and although his portrayal is much darker and vastly different than the comic counterpart, its still a damn good performance. Rachel Weisz also gives a great performance playing a nonbeliever who has their beliefs shaking by the story. The rest of the cast are solid as well. The visuals are a bit much. Some are great, like when Constantine ventures into Hell itself, while others such as flashbacks and character designs come off as generic movie monsters.
Overall, this was a solid movie and radical departure from any time of comic book film that had come out at that time. Marvel hadn’t begun their MCU project yet. Sony had Sam Raimi’s first 2 “Spider Man” films, Universal had Ang Lee’s “Hulk” & Fox had the “X-Men” series as well as “DareDevil” while New Line had the first 2 “Blade” films. Warner Bros. had this film and Christopher Nolan newly rebooted “Batman” film, “Batman Begins”. Comic books films were making their stride but with more popular books characters jumping to big screen, lesser known characters like Constantine, Blade, Spawn & Ghost Rider were also making the jump. While “Spawn” & the “Ghost Rider” films didn’t break the box office, “Constantine” made a cult classic that has Reeves has stated he would be interested in revisiting the role. After this film, we would here anything about the character for about 9 years as Reeves went to make other films. Hounsou would remain appearing in comic books like as “Korath” in 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” & 2019’s “Captain Marvel”. He would jump to the DC Universe as the Fisherman King in 2018’s “Aquaman” & as “The Grand Wizard” in 2019’s “Shazam!”. In 2014, CW released a short lived TV series, “Constantine” with Matt Ryan playing the titular character. His portrayal was much faithful to the comic book but the show only lasted one season before being cancelled in 2015. Ryan would return as “Constantine” in crossover episodes of other CW comic books show like “Arrow” & “Legends of Tomorrow”.