Reeves (John Constantine) – Neo with a nicotine habit.
I bet if you peeked into Keanu Reeves' closet you'd find only basic black – and perhaps that other guy who played Bill … or was it Ted - I forget. Based on the comic book Hellblazer (which, incidentally is the online moniker of many a computer geek), Constantine is a jumble of outtakes from The Exorcist and The Matrix sewn together into one wacky yet unimpressive package. Largely dependent upon special effects and glaringly miscast, Constantine begs the question: Will we ever again go to the multiplex theatre and not see a move based on a comic book action hero?
Here is the plot of Constantine in a hellish little nutshell: a pretty young gal teams up with a neuveau young stud (dressed in fashionable black) and together they chase demons around, take brief soiree's into the netherworld and kill monsters. Gee - ya seen this movie before?
Now, I like Keanu Reeves; but he does not fit the part of the chain-smoking, liquor-swilling, grungy anti-hero that the role of Constantine calls for. He looks more like a yuppie out slumming it for the night – sort of like Neo on a crack binge. This role would be better served by someone like Robert Downey Junior or Dennis Leary; hell, that would be downright typecasting.
The PC flies out of Constantine like a bat out of - well, you know where – when we see a poor li'l Mexican waif stumble across the (insert creepy music and lots of reverb here) SPEARRR - OF - DESTINYYY. Yes, that Spear Of Destiny; the spear that the Roman Centurion named Longinus jabbed into the side of Jesus as He hung on the cross. Only in a Hollyweird fantasy could an ancient relic from Jerusalem wind up in Mexico wrapped in a NAZI flag. Go figger. But to Hollyweird, the only evil force in the world is NAZI Germany. Imagine the screeching from the limp-wristed lefties if the evil object was found inside a Soviet Union flag, or –good gawd no – an Iraqi flag. We can't have any evil associated with those guys, nosirree.
NAZI's are still all around us – lookout! They're in the bushes outside your house! There might be one right under your chair! NAZI's are a real problem, but communists and socialists, well … they're not so bad. I know this, because Hollyweird tells me so.
Here is the biblical verse pertaining to the Spear of Destiny: The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced."– John 19:31-37.
Creepy, huh? In actuality, the Spear Of Destiny is a real artifact (even though there are several that claim to be the one and only S.O.D.) and Adolph Hitler did steal the one he believed was real from a museum in Hapsburg, Austria. However, what the makers of Constantine missed (purposely, I suspect) was that shortly after Adolph filled his head with lead, the S.O.D. was confiscated by the American 7th Army under General Patton and returned to the Museum it was stolen from. But hey, to the liberals, why let the facts get in the way of a good agendized theory
Mo' PC shoots out like hellfire in the character of "Father Hennessy." This fat, bald, shiftless, alcoholic, dirty, slimy and messed-up-in-the-head guy is supposed to be a priest. Hey, I know Catholic Priests have had their share of problems (and they never actually state he is a Catholic), but this guy is a real piece of work. He's got more temptations than Ted Kennedy on nickel beer night.
Christians are not to be trusted. All priests are strange weirdoes with ulterior motives. Christianity is a bad thing, especially the evil Caucasian Christians, whose main objective is to oppress hapless minorities in sacred third world nations. I know this, because Hollyweird tells me so.
Only Christianity takes a bashing like this in the pop-culture media. Imagine the squalling from the liberals if the crazed holy man was a Rabbi. That might actually make more sense, since we're talking about ancient relics from the Holy Land and Jesus was Jewish. Imagine the wailing from the PC Thought Police if the crazed holy man was a wacked-out Muslim. Oh yeah, to see those guys, you have to turn on the nightly news.
Bad crazy bald Christians! Bad bad bad!
When asked about God's plan for the world, Constantine says, "God's like a kid with an ant farm; he's not planning anything." Well … that's nice to know. This is Hollyweird's view of religion in general – there is no God, except for the benevolent Big Brother Guv'mint.
Mo' betta PC wafts out like sulfur fumes when we see the Devil himself. Naturally, Satan is a blue-eyed white guy in a white business suit. Hollyweird always portrays Lucifer as a neatly dressed Caucasian.
Caucasian businessmen are bad people (Hollyweird moguls excepted). They make their fortunes upon the backs of hapless minorities and are solely responsible for air pollution, global warming and that icky gelatinous stuff on a canned ham. I know this, because Hollyweird tells me so.
C'mon, Hollyweird; you're missing a great casting opportunity here. A natural to play Beelzebub is Al Sharpton. He's got the oily looks, the fancy expensive suits and that wacky gleam in his eye. He'd be great. Not to mention he may be on the way to Hell already.
One bright spot in Constantine is when the archangel Gabriel shows his/her visage. Tilda Swinton does a great job playing a meddling angel that is eerie, asexual, mysterious & spooky & altogether ooky at the same time. My guess is that Michael Jackson was too busy with his child molestation trial to show up to the set. He wouldn't even have needed any makeup – just some glue to keep his nose from sliding off.
Besides Tilda there are some fun things to see in Constantine. See Hades as a nuclear fallout city - hood. See snarling monsters with half their heads missing. See the sacred minority rule in full play with the character of "Midnite" (the sacred minority rule: if there is only one minority in a film, then that minority will be heroic and endowed with angelic qualities above and beyond any and all Caucasians). See Constantine blast gaggles of cranky demons with really cool demon-blasting gizmos. See a tribute to the Cantina Bar scene in Star Wars; this one full of angels and devils that turn water into wine and other fun parlor tricks. See Constantine drown his date in a bathtub and she thanks him for it - hell, whenever I try that she dials 911 … phooey.
One thing that makes no sense in the film – besides just about everything – is the character of "Chas," Constantine's driver. He's sort of like a wimpy version of Kato to the Green Hornet. This character could have been completely cut out of the flick and it would have made no difference. But then maybe Hollyweird had to have a place to put a nice Jewish kid. Maybe his Uncle Myron owns stock in the film. I dunno. Maybe there's another Jesus reference here: a nice Jewish lad who rises to the occasion when called upon and he saves the day -hmm.
Constantine has four of the five Bachelor B's: Blood, Beasts, Bashes and Bombs. No Breasts. Not even when a hottie babe in a hospital gown takes a header into a swimming pool. In my day, I've seen many a wet t-shirt contest. But in this wet babe scene, there is no nippie-show. Maybe director Francis Lawrence got a phone call from Michael Powell. Damn you, Janet Jackson and your wardrobe malfunction!
So if you can dig a really good episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or a really bad episode of "Bill & Ted's Not-So-Excellent Adventure (without Bill - or was it Ted?) - then Constantine is your cup of hemlock.
I give Constantine two and a half Capitalist Dollar Signs (out of 5).