Constantine (2005) Movie Review

details
Title: Constantine.
Universe: DC (stand-alone).
Rated: R.
Director: Francis Lawrence.
Screenplay: Kevin Brodbin & Frank A. Cappello.
Story: Kevin Brodbin.
Release Date: 2005.
Runtime: 121 min.
Genre(s): Action, Fantasy, Supernatural.
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LeBeouf, Tilda Swinton, and many more!
Budget: $100,000,000.
Opening Weekend: $33,624,407.
Domestic Gross: $75,976,178.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10).

thoughts

Originally created by Alan Moore in one of his Swamp Thing comic book stories, John Constantine is a dark and cynical character that has garnered the attention of a lot of fans over the years. First introduced on the big screen thanks to Keanu Reeves, the character was quickly integrated into various DC Comics stories, including the Justice League Dark, while having multiple solo runs by different creative teams. His character was also seen in the NBC TV series Constantine that ran for 13 episodes before getting canceled. Fortunately for fans, actor Matt Ryan reprises his role as he finds himself picked up in the CW Arrowverse TV series Legends of Tomorrow. While his character is a lot more tamed nowadays, his charisma and personality easily capture the attention of viewers as his fanbase continues to grow. But how did Keanu Reeves do when he had the challenge to introduce John Constantine while he remained pretty unknown for the world? Pretty good, I’d say.

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What is Constantine (2005) about? Loosely based on the Original Sins story arc by Jamie Delano, this movie directed by Francis Lawrence presents fans with their first live-action John Constantine played by none other than Keanu Reeves. The story introduces us to his character, a cynical exorcist who can see half-angels and half-demons, as he seeks to earn favor with Heaven knowing that he is condemned for eternal damnation in Hell following a suicide attempt as a kid. While each of his successful attempts to exorcise demons out of individuals, his wish is never fulfilled as his actions are tainted in self-interest. One day, however, he finds himself tangled into a dangerous mystery involving the suicide of a detective’s twin sister, which leads him to seek out extreme measures in order to uncover a truth that could change the face of the Earth forever but also his faith.

Surprisingly, Constantine turned out to be one of the most underrated movies I have ever seen so far. The tone of the movie was occult and completely immersive, depicting a dangerous and sinister Los Angeles, riddled with mischievous individuals. From the colours to the murkiness of the streets, the movie conveyed a depressing and heavy atmosphere that brilliantly captures John Constantine’s inner conflict. In fact, throughout the movie, the character felt shackled to the sins of the world as well as those of his past and brilliantly brought to the foreground his peculiar temperament. The religious overtones also allowed the movie to simmer on dichotomous ideas that greatly contributed to the viewer’s understanding of Constantine’s goal, although it wouldn’t be anyone’s fault if they were to find themselves lost past the second half of the movie as it swims in ideologies instead of remaining grounded.

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The story’s direction was interesting, with an excellent premise to kick things off, but quickly loses itself along the way when more characters were sneaked into the main storyline. The constant repetition of religious fundamentals and the descent into the mystical elements of the character also quickly overwhelmed the Earth-based story, leaving the viewer conflicted between an interpersonal battle of the main cast and the inter-realm conflict involving Heaven, Hell, and Earth. I will have to admit that I, however, enjoyed the final act as it allowed to showcase one of the character’s best facet, that of deception.

On an acting perspective, Keanu Reeves taking on the role of John Constantine is a mysteriously intriguing decision. Although Nicholas Cage was supposed to play the character, the final decision offered us an original take on the British chain-smoking cynic and his dark magic. I believe Keanu Reeves natural ability for offbeat humour and his natural grim murmurs and whispers—that can, in fact, be sometimes hard to understand—allows him to convey his character’s struggle to obtain an afterlife he desires. His character still successfully presents his constant battle for redemption but also the suffocating reality in which he resides, as he attempts to drown it with booze or choke it with cigarettes.

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The supporting cast was also surprisingly decent in their own roles, from Shia LeBeouf as John Constantine’s apprentice Chas Kramer, to Tilda Swinton playing the Archangel Gabriel, they all offered a performance that was void of any reproach. Rachel Weisz as Angela Dodson, a troubled LAPD detective who investigates her twin sister’s suicide was also interesting. Although her character turned out to be a little dull at times, a sentiment that can also sometimes be felt at certain scenes throughout the movie, she still shows a realistic desire to get to the bottom of it all while suspending her disbelief as her religious beliefs takes over and enables John Constantine in seeing in her another opportunity to earn favours with Heaven.

The movie does rely on a hefty amount of CGI in order to produce some of the more supernatural elements in the movie, although credit should be given to the costume designers who managed to design some pretty nasty demons on screen. While it is inevitably easy to notice the sequences requiring CGI, they still remain incredibly well done for a movie released in 2005. The CGI also allowed for some short and action-packed sequences that gave Keanu Reeves an opportunity to showcase his ability to handle some insane accessories and weaponry, including his mastery for dark magic.

Constantine (2005) is a theological noir detective thriller presenting a hero’s ultimate battle for redemption as he is sucked into a terrible and dark conspiracy between Heaven and Hell.


EXHIBITA

When the story finally introduces Papa Midnite’s club, known as a neutral ground where half-breeds can live without being exposed, I immediately thought of John Wick’s world. This movie could actually be a perfect prequel to John Wick when you think about it. Imagine if it was a source of inspiration?

Have you read any John Constantine/Hellblazer comics?
Have you seen Constantine (2005)? What did you think about it?
Share your thoughts with me!

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37 comments

  • I borrowed this from the library and watched it. I don’t really remember much except I was disappointed that Reeves had starred in something I found so unimpressive. Between Bill&Ted and then the Matrix, I was sure Reeves could do no wrong. I was so young and naive back then 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  • I don’t even remember that Shia LeBeouf was in this one, but I do remember that I enjoyed this movie quite a lot back in the day. I saw it in the theatres and I particularly enjoyed the gritty opening with the mirror. Keanu was great playing this part (honestly glad it wasn’t Cage as it would probably have resulted in one of his completely over the top performances)! I haven’t actually read the comics, so I am not as familiar with this character. But the movie was great, and as usual your review for this one captured it perfectly! Great post! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was surprised to see him in it myself, he was pretty young and innocent here. 😂 And yes! That exorcism sequence was so interesting. Nothing was spelled out for the viewer, I was completely immersed in it and wanted to find out what he was trying to achieve! And man… Cage would’ve made for such a weird Constantine. I think I’d prefer if they’d go for a British actor or someone who can pull off the accent for this hero. It’s just too iconic to the character to take away that British humour 😂 Thank you for your kind words and for reading, sir! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  • I enjoyed this one quite a lot, surprisingly 😉 I thought Reeves was a pretty cool Constantine, an early incarnation of John Wick, so to speak, but I was totally taken with Tilda Swinton’s androgynous Gabriel 😀 The plot was somewhat lacking, but the movie made a decent attempt at recreating the dark multidimensional reality of Constantine’s existence, spread as it is between very conservatively imagined Heaven and Hell, with poor Earth in between 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is so uplifting to hear such positive words being thrown at a DC movie by the great Ola 😍 The movie definitely had its flaws but Reeves and Swinton in their respective roles was fun! Even Lucifer was an interesting interpretation. I enjoyed the world they built and would’ve loved to see a proper sequel. Hopefully DC will look into creating a solid Justice League Dark live-action movie where Constantine is properly done… some day… 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL a low blow if there ever was one! 😂😂😂
        I’ll have you know that The Dark Knight is one of my favorite comic book-based movies 😛
        I feel Lucifer is a tough one to do properly in general as it’s a very ambivalent figure – I was less than happy with the movie’s version, but would gladly see a sequel with Reeves and the rest 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ahhhhh ☺️ You can safely remain at the top of my friends list now that I know TDK is a favourite of yours too 😁

          Hahaha he was… forgettable in this movie but he also barely got any screen time. Loads of ways to do him, just the now-Netflix show Lucifer has another version of the character too. 😂

          Liked by 1 person

          • I just imagined you poring over a real list of names with a pen, and scratching off names 😂

            Ugh, you had to bring the series up, didn’t you? 😛 I do think Lucifer is a misunderstood and underestimated creature – a prideful and accomplished prince of Heaven struck to Hell would in no circumstances have much love for humans 😉

            Liked by 1 person

  • I saw this once a while back. I thought it was kind of entertaining, but never bothered to rewatch it since. It’s got some neat ideas, decent action and good effects for its time. It just didn’t really do much for me either way.

    Liked by 1 person

  • That song at papa midnight’s club is called Passive, done by the band A perfect Circle. one of my favorite songs… Also the leadsinger of APC is also the frontman of Tool…

    Liked by 1 person

  • I love Keanu Reeves but haven’t watched this movie yet…. Like you mentioned, it wasn’t all that hyped back in the day for some reason, so it kind of slipped my radar for a while and then I forgot to get back to it xD Regardless, it does sound terrific, very dark and sombre but with an interesting type of humour and great acting (which is so important). I don’t mind CGI at all, though I know some people would prefer a movie to rely less on special effects and more on substance – though, I ask, can’t we have both? It seems like the case here.
    I’m not one for overly religious undertones in any type of fiction, but those can be pretty exciting if given the proper material. So I will most certainly be trying this one (despite the nasty demons, ew) based on your lovely review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I only learned about it way after its release so I can assure you that not a lot of people would have known what it even was. I mean, I’m sure a lot of people don’t even know that Keanu Reeves played a DC superhero! 😂
      The casting was actually pretty good and they all played a nice interpretation of each of their character. The final act makes for a fun sequence too!
      Exactly… It’s the kind of complaint I’ve heard people have for Wonder Woman or Justice League in recent years. I don’t see where the issue is in having beautiful animation, unless its an obvious green screen that makes you cringe! 😂
      I’m glad to put this on your radar and I hope you’ll have a fun time with it if you ever give it a try, Sophie! Thank you so much for reading! 😍

      Liked by 1 person

  • Huh… i heard about this movie (as in i knew it existed), but somehow i failed to grasp what it was about. Now i’m sort of intrigued 😀
    I used to watch a lot of movies with Keanu Reeves in the past, but then i kinda stopped watching movies overall maybe 10 years ago. Now when i browse through the selection i’m usually attracted to older films, so me being interested in this sort of makes sense 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m super glad to hear that it’s on your radar now! 😁 That’s interesting though. I always thought he was an odd actor. The role has to fit his personality for it to work. If you haven’t already, I’d highly recommend the John Wick series too! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  • Basically this is what I call a little gem right? Thank you for the review Lashaan as it is one of the movies we could watch in family (hard to find something to please the man, the son, the daughter and me!).

    Liked by 1 person

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