I must say it was rather good indeed. Keanu Reeves, despite being as British as Napoleon, did pretty well in the main role of the cynical, hard-bitten exorcist, commanding a presence he lacked somewhat in The Matrix (when he wasn’t kicking ass that is). In fact, I’d say all the mainliners performed their roles admirably – Rachel Weisz pulls off her American accent pretty damn well and Gavin Rossdale (of the band Bush) does a nifty turn as Balthazar (which is such a great moniker for a villain,by the way!). Honourable mentions must go to both Tilda Swinton and Djimon Honsou who took on the roles of Gabriel and Midnight respectively.
And the much hallowed CGI? Veeery nice! I’m not usually so enamoured with CGI saturation, but I think it worked better than well here. Angel wings swish across the landscape, Hell’s agents reveal the visages hidden under human skin, demons threaten to burst from the bodies of human hosts in a manner reminiscent of Alien, Urotsukidoji et al – and hell blazes (quite appropriately). Supported by the efforts of the cast,Constantine detonates the convention of strong CGI covering up weak acting (Spawn anyone?).
BEWARE: SPOILERS AHOY – SKIP THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN (AND WANNA SEE) THIS FLICK!!
Thematically, as with anything which uses religion in an offbeat way, it couldn’t help but hold my interest with the mythical duel between God & Satan, the Spear of Loginus and the Apocalypse thrown together into a compelling compound. I had some big reservations with the plot, such as Constantine being compelled to sacrifice and the underlying determinism (“He has a plan for all of us”) seeping through the script – nevertheless, the script had a twist which made me not mind all that so much, namely the character of Satan. It’s quite unusual to see a villain – a principal villain – being the one that saves the day. Satan (a creepy performance by Peter Stormare) effectively rescues the hero, love interest and saves the rest of the world (if only for his own ulterior motives) – Diabolus ex Machina, if you will! (It would be great to know if there’re other films that take the “villain-as-saviour” root).
Having read just one Hellblazer graphic novel, I can’t say how faithful the movie is (besides the divergence in the nationality of the protagonist). Nevertheless, this is great comic-based movie which is worth seeing, whether you’re familiar with the source material or not…..