Starring: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
A movie about good versus evil based on a comic book has to be just another predictable action film, right? Wrong.
Constantine adds shades of gray to the good-and-evil dynamic and surpasses the typical action flick with its complex storyline and interesting religious portrayals.
Keanu Reeves stars as the sullen, chain-smoking exorcist John Constantine, who knows more about religion then he ever cared to know. Born with the ability to see the demon and angel “half breeds” who battle one another on earth, he half-heartedly devotes his time to banishing evil to Hell in an attempt to buy his own way into Heaven.
The theological battle takes a twist when Angela (Weisz) seeks Constantine’s help after the mysterious death of her troubled twin sister Isabel. The duo thus becomes tied up in a devilish adventure that could threaten to end the Earth’s “balance” of good and evil.
To affirm that Reeves’s acting ability is limited to a monotone, ‘surfer dude’ script, the character of Constantine appears to be a more jaded version of Reeves’s Neo (in The Matrix). Luckily, this script works for the majority of the film. However, there are a few unfortunate scenes in which Reeves attempts to act outside his limited sphere — just close your eyes, cringe quickly, and try not to let the brief moment distract from the rest of the film.
Weisz’s portrayal of Angela as a fragile but fiery spirit brightens up the screen and successfully counterbalances Reeves’s darker, duller Constantine.
As for digital effects, the film is complete with disturbingly lifelike, carefully designed images of angels and demons. These effects add to the film’s dark and mysterious aura and aid in creating the ideal mix of mystery and thrill.
However, it is not the digital effects that make this movie so enthralling; it’s the plot. The storyline is complex, filled with intriguing twists and turns that will cause you to pay close attention to all the film’s details. Constantine’s plot proves that mystery is not dead — it is still a genre that can appear fresh and new. The story sheds worn-out death mystery plots, choosing to sprout unpredictable turns. Note to Hollywood: forget Stephen King — he’s lost his touch. The comic book geniuses behind Constantine are the writers you need to hire.
Admittedly, watching Reeves give the devil the finger is pretty cheesy, and watching him attempt to appear cool while shouting biblical scripture is laughable. But with a script like this, who cares? For the storyline alone — whether you’ve read the Bible or not — Constantine is an entertaining, unpredictable flick.