Film Hick: Constantine (2005)
Directed by Francis Lawrence. Starring Keanu Reeves; Rachel Weisz; Tilda Swinton. Cert: 15. Running Time: 115 Mins.
Another film where the source material is taken more as a jumping off point than the gospel. It’s another film that has had the die-hard fans of the original product gnashing their teeth. Hellblazer should have been left alone, filmed exactly like the book, they cry, and why did you pick Keanu if you were going to make John Constantine an American rather than an English man? they say. The Matrix sequels had already triggered a pretty major backlash against him and what ground he had gained with that first film was lost with some people. Of course he has always had his supporters too and the people who could get their head around the changes to the story couldn’t fail to be happy.
Now I’ll admit that when I heard that John was now an American I suffered a momentary twinge of comic-fan agony myself — John Constantine and his family playing a pretty major role in the New DC Comic Universe. Then I thought, well hey, I am one of the few people I know that liked the Matrix sequels, so let’s give this thing a go. And I’m glad I did.
It has some cracking special effects and one of the better, more interesting takes on depicting hell in modern film. It is not the abstract notion that they usually ram down your throat — it is located in and looks very much like the real world and it is a triumph.
The story is a pretty simple one and lacks a lot of the depth that the comic books have, but that is often the case.; here it does nothing to damage the story. Rachel Weisz is good in her double role, Keanu convinces, Tilda Swinton is amazing as Gabriel, and with Peter Stormare playing the devil, what more do you need?
This is one of those films that is going to become a cult phenomenon. Once people accept it for what it is and don’t keep comparing it to it’s comic-book brother the younger sibling will get the break it deserves. This is great — action-packed, full of ideas, and convincing. A must see.