Review: Constantine

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I find people often quickly disregard Keanu Reeves films simply due to his presence. As an avid fan of the Bill and Ted films, as well as Point Break, I've always held a special place in my heart for Mr. Reeves' blank, yet slightly awed stare. Granted, I thought the first Matrix film was okay, and found the second so bad that I purposely avoided seeing the third " but generally, Keanu is alright by me.

Francis Lawrence's new Theological Action film (best new genre name EVER) Constantine is an adaptation of the DC/Vertigo comic book "Hellblazer". I don't know anything about " nor do I want to learn anything about " comic books, so this review will not contain any further references to the original textual source. Moving on, Keanu plays the title character, not an angel, not a demon, not dead, yet not fully alive. In short, he is some sort of supernatural detective, who sends "half-breed" demons back to hell when they are able to emerge upon the earth. Why does Constantine do this? To earn his way back into God's good graces so that he will be able to enter heaven once he dies.

Rachel Weisz plays Angela Dodson, a Catholic police officer whose Catholic sister committed suicide (a big Catholic no-no) who comes into serendipitous contact with Constantine, and then wants to use his powerful abilities to find out a) if her sister actually DID commit suicide, and b) if her sister's soul is being eternally burned in hell due to her mortal sin.

There is a lot of theological backstory which includes a female Gabriel betraying God and a demon named Balthazar played by former Bush lead-singer Gavin Rossdale (and the award for most unexpected appearance as an actor goes to...?). Satan is played by Peter Stormare, which is kind of funny in and of itself.

My biggest complaint about this film is really not the film's fault at all. Rachel Weisz has a British accent, so it follows that if she is to play an L.A. cop, she should probably lose it. So, through the use of a dialect coach, Weisz sports a very passable American accent. The problem lies in the fact that it is the EXACT same accent she used in Neil LaBute's film The Shape of Things in which Weisz plays the most horrible person in the world. Thus, when I hear her speak in Constantine, I have a hard time remembering that her character here, Angela Dodson, is NOT the most horrible person in the world. But, as I said, this is not the film's fault.

So, let us end where we began... with Keanu. I found that Mr. Reeves was perfectly cast in this role. His performance is one that convenes the blatant excess and sincere effort that the protagonist in a THEOLOGICAL ACTION film would possess. I can think of no other actor who could have spouted Constantine's dialogue with such a perfect balance of sincerity and self-reflexive sarcasm " and I must point out that I am NOT being sarcastic here.

Constantine is a good film. An above-average action film with enough intelligence that I would like to watch it again. Is it the greatest film ever? No. But, it may inspire a new genre of theological action films, and I think that would be just fantastic!

P.S.: My "date" agreed with my rating on this film.

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