Opening 17 Feb 2005
Good vs. evil film #367. This time it is the rise of the demons in an attempt to surge forth again (last time was explicitly conveyed as the Nazi regime). Tsk tsk, something is amiss...apparently the earth plane is forbidden except for humans. Demons can inhabit a body, but not emerge out of it in physical form, just to clarify for all you demon-illiterate folks. I assume it goes the same for angels, but this movie doesn't really go there. Here's the deal: John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) grows up with the ability to see the demons inside us (mankind), and to him they are graphically real and not just figures of speech. Trying to explain this to an un-seeing world insures years of therapy and medication as he is labeled insane. He takes his own life which is a mortal sin. This act, according to the Bible and its satanic counterpart (yes, there is an Un-bible for the dark types) damns him to hell. He is revived after two minutes and is forced to live knowing, eventually, his real death will send him to hell again forever. Grasping at any kind of means for redemption, John spends his time exorcising demons from humans to favorably persuade God and his angels to reconsider his chances for heaven, second-death-around.
Enter the twins (Rachel Weisz), good looking babes who are also "seers". One, Angela, denies the visions and becomes a cop; the other, Isabel, acknowledges them and is committed as insane. When Isabel jumps off a roof, the suicide brings John and Angela together to try and find a way to get the dead sister out of hell. Well, hate to say it, but all hell breaks loose....Lucifer's son Mannon is trying to take over the show by a live birth on earth (if God can have Jesus, isn't it time for the damned to have a chance?). Do you think one of the twins could be the chosen womb? Uh, maybe. Constantine is a well-made film in the genre of The Matrix ...great graphics, dark shadows, good CGI, attention-keeping story. But that is about it. Where The Matrix takes you on a journey with a spiritual message of Buddhist proportions, Constantine leaves you with Religion 101 and a technical rule game. God and Lucifer are playing for souls with their trusty rulebooks.
As for the three-star rating, I congratulate Tilda Swinton in the (once-again-androgynous) role of Gabriel the messenger angel, and Peter Stomare in a late appearance as Lucifer. Keanu did just fine in his aloof coolness. Is he acting? Just think of The Matrix meshed with Army of Darkness, minus the much-needed message. (Kirstan Böttger)