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Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon

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Constantine

The battle between Heaven and Hell has been chronicled numerous times on film. Ranging from the “Omen” and “Exorcist” series to the recent “Hellboy” and “End of Days”, Hollywood has never shied away from the struggle between good and evil and audiences have usually responded by attending in droves.

The latest entry into the genre is Constantine, which chronicles the exploits of supernatural detective John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), who is tasked to walk the line between good and evil to make sure that balance is maintained. John is a very troubled individual and his transactions with angels and demons have warped his views on life, humanity, and the afterlife.

Due to things in his past, John is trying to right his wrongs so he can gain a place in heaven, toward that end, the forces of Hell are trying there best to ensure that John is unable to gain redemption so they will be able to collect his soul, and repay him for all of their minions that he has vanquished over the years.

As if this was not bad enough, the rules between Heaven and Hell seem to be blurring as there is a growing demon presence on Earth which does not bode well for the future of humanity. It is learned that there is an agreement in place that there can be no direct contact, only influence to humans giving them the freedom to pick between good and evil and thus the fate of ones soul.

When a local detective named Angela (Rachael Weisz), contacts John, she is desperate to learn the truth behind her twin sister’s apparent suicide. Although skeptical at first, John soon learns that he and Angela have become players in a much larger game with the very fate of humanity dependant upon their actions.

Before long, John and Angela are facing off against legions of Hell’s minions as they attempt to save the soul of Angela’s sister and save humanity.

The film will be different things to many viewers as on one hand; some many take exception to the story and the bland tone and mannerisms of Reeves, as well as some of the films theological stances.

That being said, the film works, the action is good without being in your face as the computer generated effects enhance the film, complimenting the story and actors rather than upstaging them. The film has a murky look to it which sets the tone perfectly as this is not a happy movie filled with lovable people, instead it is a tail of people trying to do what is right and staying true to their beliefs though surrounded by temptations and numerous chances to stray.

Reeves plays Constantine as a man who is dedicated to what he does, but also shows us that he is unhappy with his life and past choices as they have forever haunted him. John is forced to do things he would rather not do as it is the only chance he has left at redemption and this has seen him deteriorate as he feels he is a tool that is being used with no end in sight.

Weisz does a good job with a very limited role as she is able to keep up with the action without falling prey to the damsel in distress mode that haunted her character in the “Mummy Films”. Singer Gavin Rossdale does a good job as the smarmy demon Balthazar who is a constant bane to John.

Despite the occasional hiccups with the plot and Reeves inability to show range or expressions, for the most part Constantine works and looks to be a good starting point for what is likely to be a franchise series for Warner Bros.

4 stars out of 5


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