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Constantine


Hollywood keeps sending Keanu Reeves to hell, but he always returns like a bad penny.
Reeves, who is perhaps best known for his roles in the Matrix and Bill and Ted franchises, has descended into Hades in at least two films and has occasionally taken us with him in memorable flops like Johnny Mnemonic. For most actors a B comic book character like John Constantine – from DC Comics’ Hellblazer series – should be a cakewalk, but Reeves has the uncanny ability to make the rudimentary appear dense, complex and difficult.
Those of us who remember Reeves butchering the cyberpunk classic Johnny Mnemonic are justifiably fearful of his superhuman power to destroy and obliterate nuance. Constantine, thankfully, is an ordinary dud with none of the sulfuric aftertaste associated with Reeves’ greater bombs.   
Constantine is about John Constantine, a hard-boiled occultist who plays demons against angels in an attempt to win his place in Heaven. A nihilistic loner, the chain-smoking Constantine lives a shadowy existence chasing demons out of little girls and procuring strange supernatural doodads to pedal in the black market.
Facing a death sentence in the form of terminal lung cancer, Constantine wants to buy his way into Heaven as quickly as possible. Luckily for him, the son of Satan is simultaneously trying to break through to our world, threatening to disrupt the cosmic balance.
John is thrust head first into the conspiracy when police detective Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) enlists Constantine’s help in discovering why her twin sister decided to commit suicide. Come to find out, both Angela and her sister were born with the power to “see dead people” and a powerful clairvoyant is needed as part of the ritual to unleash the son of Satan. 
Still with me?
Okay, add to the intrigue an unsettling angel Gabriel (Tilda Swinton in suffocating sport bra) and a Lucifer played by bad boy Peter Stormare, who I swear is impersonating Al Pacino in the Devil’s Advocate – another film that attempts to bury Reeve in hell – and you have one weird movie.
Constantine is the kind of movie that makes sense when you’re watching it but falls apart under close scrutiny. The relationship between characters seems tenuous and the plot often appears disjointed and confusing. There are scenes that seem to be included only as a means to show off special effects gimmicks rather than to propel the plot or develop characters.
Constantine’s Batman-like collection of gizmos stretches credibility and it’s difficult to believe this guy has got terminal cancer when he floors demons and jumps across gaping holes. Reeves’ affectations with the lighter are more comic than gritty and his bad acting doesn’t quite convey the same aloofness with Constantine as it did with Neo from the Matrix franchise, proving that post-modern cool is easier to pull off.
Disbelievers will moan when Constantine totes out semi-automatic shotgun in the shape of a crucifix – dredging up images of Dolph Lundgren swinging a cross-shaped battle axe from Johnny Mnemonic – but somehow the film stays just this side of awful.
Many of us would like to see Reeves go to hell, but he’s not going to be sent there by virtue of Constantine. It’s not that memorable.

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