(out of 5)
John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), a detective of the spirit world, roams the city looking for half-breed demons who break the rules of human interference and sends them back to hell. Not the kind of job you grow up hoping to have, but a steady one as the villains are in no short supply. His personal conflict arises from the lung cancer which is quickly killing him (though his appetite for thirty cigarettes a day remains strong), all the while knowing that a grave sin of his past will send him directly to hell (which, according to this movie, is a bad day in Brooklyn) despite all the good he’s done for humanity. Without the hope of ever being saved and taken to heaven, Constantine is grim, pessimistic and completely without hope…or maybe that’s just Keanu’s face, I couldn’t really tell. In walks energetic Rachel Weisz as a homicide detective who wants to know why her twin sister whispered Constantine’s name before jumping off a building. Her journey into the secrets of her sister’s demonvision ends up taking her to scary parts of the occult that have much to do with Constantine’s salvation and the world’s deliverance from an all-powerful evil. Based on the DC Comics’ Hellblazer character, this latest entry in the canon of religion-as-carnival horror movies is passable entertainment, but would have been much better if the screenplay wasn’t an incomprehensible mess of religious mumbo jumbo that takes itself far too seriously. Hollywood is always making these Save-Us-From-The-Devil movies, but nobody in them ever questions why we should be saved in the first place: what could Beelzebub do to the planet that would be so much worse than fossil fuel emissions or Lindsay Lohan movies? Reeves and his stony face are suited for the part, but he’s such a downer that you don’t really care if he wins or loses. Either way, the show is stolen away from him far too easily by Weisz’s vigorous heroine, Gavin Rossdale (of Bush) as a half-demon, and Tilda Swinton‘s terrific scenes as a questionably motivated angel.
Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures, DC Comics, Lonely Film Productions GmbH & Co. KG., Donners’ Company, Branded Entertainment/Batfilm Productions, Weed Road Pictures, 3 Arts Entertainment, Di Bonaventura Pictures
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Cinematography by Philippe Rousselot
Production Design by Naomi Shohan
Costume Design by Louise Frogley
Film Editing by Wayne Wahrman