Constantine

Keanu Reeves stars as the demon-battling hero of DC comic book Hellblazer

Director: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf

Website: http://constantinemovie.warnerbros.com/

"He who holds the Spear of Destiny, holds the fate of the world in his hands," says the movie's opening title.

Fortunately, the rest of the film isn't quite as silly as the opening line. Well, it is - but witty dialogue, excellent casting and deadpan delivery make this one of the better comic-book adaptations of the last couple of years.

Based on DC's Hellblazer title, the story follows John Constantine, a freelancing exorcist, in his attempt to redeem himself in the eyes of God.

Constantine is dying of cancer. He committed suicide as a teenager, flat-lined for five seconds and is damned to Hell for eternity because of it. Suicide is a mortal sin.

Hell, however, is the last place he wants to end up. All the demons and devils he's exorcised during his life are waiting for him there. God, though, doesn't seem to be very forgiving.

It's much better than it sounds.

Once you’ve swallowed the basic premise - that exorcism is all in a day's work to Reeves - then the film is great entertainment, low on pentagrams and high on characterization.

Reeves plays Constantine as a tough-talking, chain smoking, Dirty Harry type.

The incongruity of such a character hasn't been lost on either the director or actor. And Reeves pulls off the deadpan delivery with just the right amount of irony, filling the role surprisingly well.

He's helped by Rachel Weissz. She plays an LA cop trying to come to terms with her sister's death. The credibility and emotion in her performance allows the audience to run with the existential boredom of the maverick exorcist.

The supporting cast is also good.

Gavin Rossdale is well cast as the baby-faced demon, Balthazar, but Peter Stormare, the psycho from Fargo, steals the show. His five-minute appearance as Lucifer, right at the end of the film, is worth the entry fee alone.

The plot isn't too bad either.

Fortunately, the Spear of Destiny doesn't make much of an appearance until the end of the film. And the movie's take on the Bible and Christian dogma is suitably iconoclastic.

As comic movies go, this is one of the better ones. As demon-stomping comic movies go, this is definitely the best, nipping Hellboy at the post and leaving Van Helsing in the dust.

PTV Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Czech Premiere: Thursday, April 7th, 2005
Czech Title: Constantine
Runtime: 2 hours, 1 minute

Video on YouTube

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