Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Constantine

directed by Francis Lawrence

Constantine poster  
John Constantine is close to death in more ways than one. A chain smoker, he knows his habit will lead him to an early grave. And as a paranormal investigator he's seen Hell and knows exactly what's waiting for him when he dies.

Constantine is called on to help Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) to solve the mystery of her twin sister Isobel's suicide. Constantine is very terse, rude even, a long way from being the friendly or approachable type. He doesn't want his apprentice, or Angela, to get involved with his work. Given that this involves going to Hell on a regular basis, this seems reasonable. But it does leave him as an isolated and overburdened character, with a bitterness underlying his every action.

The special effects that illustrate the fiery pit are very well done: it looks hellish, but at the same time a lot like the world we live in. It's not the sort of Hell that's often seen in Hollywood movies.

Constantine lives in a Los Angeles that's filled with demons and half-breeds warring for our souls, and he's one of the few who can see it. More demons seem to be crossing into our plane than usual, and it seems to be connected with the discovery of the Spear of Destiny.

A sort of dry, understated humour complements the darkness of this film. Reeves is ideally suited to playing the moody, stand-offish John Constantine. There's a certain sexual tension between him and Angela, but again it's very underplayed. There is, however, a lot of emphasis on what smoking is doing to him, and its ill-effects are shown in graphic detail. This is one aspect of the film where subtlety is discarded.

Constantine is not a bad movie, catering mainly to popular tastes. It's full of action and the point of the story is easy to grasp. In parts, it owes something to The Exorcist, but on the whole it has a gritty, original look which contrasts well with some of the flashier effects. It doesn't tax the grey, but it is entertaining.

Film Details

Year: 2005

Categories: Films

  Fantasy

Classification: 15

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
More about Francis Lawrence