Horror 365, Movie 76: Constantine

So I get a horoscope in my email every day. I’m not sure why, but I find it entertaining if not occasionally a little weird. For example, one morning it said, “You may find yourself in an equitable mood today.” I use that phrase, “equitable mood,” quite a bit. It’s not something you hear often.

Other times, like this morning, it says stuff like, “You may feel quite responsible today.” Me? Responsible? It went on to suggest that, “Common sense can be a near-perfect guide today.” It’s almost as if the person writing this has never met me. On the other hand, I suppose I do feel some responsibility in terms of praising or condemning a movie, and that brings me to (speaking of things occult related) Constantine.

I remember Constantine getting fairly well trashed when it hit theaters. To be fair, I don’t like Shia LeBeouf, and admittedly Keanu Reeves would not have been my first choice. I’d have probably leaned more toward, obviously, Matt Ryan. Maybe even David Tennant. On the other hand, we’ve also got Rachel Weisz and Tilda Swinton, so come on.

Plus I’ve been a John Constantine fan since his appearance in The Saga Of Swamp Thing. Hellboy, Ghost Rider, Damon Hellstrom, Spawn–I’m kind of a sucker for any character who has ties to hell but doesn’t just go along with the plan. The fact that movies rarely do them justice, well that’s just my cross, as it were, to bear. Plus, big fan though I am of comic books, I’m rarely a fan comic book movies. They just don’t live up.

My point is, I really wanted to like Constantine. I really wanted to come to its defense and talk about how all its detractors got it wrong. I awoke disappointed in the cold light of day. I’m not saying I hated it. I’m not saying it was as bad as so many folks said it was. It just wasn’t what I wanted it to be.

For one thing, I had to turn on the captions cuz I couldn’t hear a damn thing Keanu Reeves mumbled. Second, the John Constantine I’m used to is a nonchalantly wise-cracking bastard. If Reeves was going for that at all, and there is little evidence that he was, he sure as hell didn’t pull it off. Again, gimme Matt Ryan.

Brief as her appearances were, hats off to Tilda Swinton for being far and away the most interesting and watchable part of the movie. Peter Stormare is a respectably close second as Lucifer.

In the interest of saving you some valuable time, lemme fast track this for you (which will of course require some spoilers). First, check out Justice League Dark and City Of Demons, maybe even some of the short-lived NBC Constantine series. All of them will give you some background into John Constantine and Matt Ryan. Maybe even read a few of the comics; do a little internet research. Then, see if you can find a way to watch the movie for free. You really don’t wanna pay to rent this because all you want/need to see is the last 30 minutes.

On one hand, you’ll miss the plot which involves the son of Lucifer trying to break through to this plane and muscle in on Dad’s turf. This involves using The Spear Of Destiny to sacrifice Rachel Weisz because of her powerful psychic abilities. There’s also some exposition of The Great Balance that is incidental at best.

You might consider watching the first 10 or so minutes as some of the individual shots are just cool lookin’ and would work great as comic book panels. But action and storywise, really you can hold out all the way up until Tilda Swinton as the angel Gabriel shows up for a showdown with Constantine. From that point on you’re in for some right enjoyable viewing.

And so, as per today’s horoscope, I have apparently discharged my responsibilities after all. Interesting.

7 onscreen (plus a bunch of cows)
For rent on Apple TV+, Google Play, iTunes, Prime, Vudu, YouTube

3 thoughts on “Horror 365, Movie 76: Constantine

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