Constantine (2005) Movie Review
Written By: XX
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writers(s): Kevin Brodbin, Frank Cappello
Producer(s): Lauren Shuler Donner, Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, et.al.
Date Released: February 18, 2005
Keanu Reeves – John Constantine
Rachel Weisz – Angela/Isabel Dodson
Tilda Swinton – Archangel Gabriel
Shia LaBeouf – Chas Kramer
Pruitt Taylor Vince – Father Hennessy
Djimon Hounsou – Papa Midnite
Gavin Rossdale – Balthazar
Peter Stormare – Lucifer Morningstar
Max Baker – Beeman
Rating =2.5/5 Graves
***May contain spoilers***
John Constantine always had the gift, or curse as he calls it, of perceiving the supernatural and the occult. He uses this power to send back half-demons who try to interfere with the balance of heaven and hell on earth. As he encounters a soldier demon trying to pass through to the world by possessing a little girl, something it should not be able to do, he knows that there is something afoot in the hidden world. He finds himself being attacked by full-fledged demons as he wrestles with the fact that his past sins and current vices would lead him straight back to hell very soon. Angela, a devout Catholic and a detective, could not believe that her sister would commit suicide. She asks for Constantine’s help to determine what really happened to her twin sister’s death. As they get closer to the truth, forces from both heaven and hell interfere with the balance of the supernatural, and with it, the fate of the universe.
The movie chronicles the stories of the supernatural rather than horror and gore. While there is limited blood and carnage, the movie relies on the grotesque to depict the demonic creatures from hell. The disturbing creatures are depicted outlandishly in creepy and unnerving make-up and special effects. At one point, a fly is seen crawling out of the eye of a man who is later swarmed by a horde of flies. In the main battle scene, Constantine shoots the half-breed demons resulting in substantial blood splatter. At another pivotal point of the film, Constantine also slits his wrist, drawing blood that flows on to the floor.
The Grave Review
Constantine (2005), with its deliberate and measured pacing, entices the viewer with its prolific mythology. It builds the layers of the story from the ground up, establishing every detail brick by brick, to create the universe within the film. It lays the foundation of its vivid worldbuilding to support the thrilling action and conflict contained in the movie. It managed to depict a rich world where heaven and hell exist, and demons and angels freely roam the earth. The excellent production and set design contributed a lot in this. The highly detailed film props, sets, and locations are well thought-out to enrich the feel of the supernatural tale.
Keanu Reeves remains the action man we all know and love. He plays the charismatic and rogue occultist splendidly well. He is both skillful and lackadaisical, playful and serious. The supporting set of characters are all beloved and augment our immersion in the world they are living in. Rachel Weisz is the perfect Angela to Keanu’s Constantine. She succeeded in portraying a competent detective who can keep up with the exorcist. Tilda Swinton and Shia LaBeouf also give remarkable performances in this movie.
However, it seems that the film is made ahead of its time. A rich universe like this, adapted from comic book form, would benefit from a series of episodes or films to flesh out the plot points. The film suffers from what it tried to do. In trying to cram everything in one movie, the storyline became overwhelming and lost what made it exceptional in the first place. A great backstory and strong characters would not be able to make up for the abysmal storytelling. Both the narrative and characters were underutilized, failing to make this movie one of the greats.
For those reasons, Grave Reviews gives Constantine (2005) two and a half graves out of five graves.
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