Sunday, April 8, 2012

Constantine (2005)

The dagger of destiny has been found and the son of Satan seeks to rise from Hell to control earth.  John Constantine is the one man who can stop it from happening but as his allies begin to die off will he be able to stop the forces of evil alone?  Knowledge of the Catholic religion will help in the understanding of this story some, but I doubt it’s required to follow along.

                A scavenger in Mexico finds the dagger and instantly becomes a slave to it so to speak.  He takes off running into an unknown direction when he is violently struck by a car.  The car is smashed up and the man pulls himself from the wreckage unscathed.  He notices an odd mark on his wrist and runs away again.  It’s clear at this point you discover the dagger has some supernatural powers to it.

If you were damned what would you do?
                Now we turn to the star of the movie John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) who is a vulgar man that exorcises demons and sends them back to Hell.  He smokes non-stop which has given him bloody coughs along with lung cancer from what my best guess is.  He drinks liquor to top it all off almost with each cigarette he inhales.  It should be clear now that he isn’t somebody you’d like to know unless you’re name is Chas (Shia LaBeouf).  He is Constantine’s driver for the most part and has a witty personality.  He longs to participate in Constantine’s practices but is shunned from it.

                As the movie begins Constantine runs into a friend of his, if that’s what you want to refer to this person as.  His name is Father Hennessy (Pruitt Taylor Vince) and he called Constantine here because he wasn’t able to exorcise a demon.  It seems he has a lesser strength between the two and Constantine basically ignores him and goes up the building to his client, the possessed girl.  Father Hennessy is a fat old man so it’s easy to see why he failed.  Constantine arrives to see the girl strapped to a bed squirming about looking quite evil.  He takes it all naturally and pulls out his tiny medallion keychain.  He opens up the curtain and flashes them from the sunlight onto the girl.  One of the medallion’s reacts and the girl feels pain.  He presses it against her forehead and chants some phrases.  It doesn’t work so he improvises and demands a three foot mirror.  It’s fascinating to watch him prepare for the exorcism as he seems well versed in the method.  He ends up trapping a soldier demon into the mirror then throwing it out the window to stop the evil creature from entering earth.  After it all a man named Balthazar is watching Constantine vacate the premises in secret.  He looks shady, we’ll see about this guy later.

The realm of Hell isn't a welcoming sight.

                Let’s side step for some background.  An interesting concept is the three plains of Heaven, Hell and earth.  They all exist on top of each other but the catch is no one from Heaven or Hell is allowed to cross into earth.  It’s a supposed deal they have to win the souls of those on earth.  They are allowed to influence humanity but never to cross over.  There are half-breeds that live on earth that try to protect or harm humans.  The demons Constantine has been encountering lately have clearly been trying to enter the earth domain.

A bit of back story about Constantine

                Constantine is a man with a psychic gift from birth.  There are others like him but he seems to be one of the most gifted.  In his young age he was deemed crazy by the things he saw.  His parents tried to help him but made it worse somehow, it’s not really explained.  Constantine eventually committed suicide, which in the Catholic religion is a one way ticket to Hell.  He was sent back though and he knows not why.  He spends his life exorcising demons in hopes of gaining passage to Heaven through good deeds.  The rule stands though that if you suicide all hope is to be lost forever.  It makes one rather despicable and hateful.  Constantine lives knowingly that his fate lies in Hell anyway but still holds onto a sliver of hope that he will earn his way to Heaven.  This explains his attitude, smoking, drinking and any other negative aspect of his character that exist.  Probably even leaving the toilet seat up or not taking his shoes off at the door!

I'll try to help but only for the benefit of my soul.
                Back to the story, Angela (Rachel Weisz, now we’re talking) is a detective trying to figure out why her twin sister Isabel committed suicide.  They both had similar gifts as Constantine whereas Isabel embraced her gift while Angela completely denied and ignored it.  Isabel was to be used as a host for the son of Satan and she knew this.  Her only known way to prevent that was to suicide and so she did.   She goes to Hell as the rule states.  Angela watches video recording after recording trying to find a glimmer of hope she was murdered to no avail.  All she sees eventually is an odd moment when Isabel says, “Constantine” in a video clip.  Her sister is at a mental help clinic of some kind and its strange enough she was able to get to the roof without being stopped, I’d be skeptical of suicide too if I was Angela.

Splish Splash I was taking a bath!
                Angela seeks out Constantine to find out the truth about Isabel as she won’t believe her suicide.  He makes a cruel remark that he’s surprised Angela is shocked that someone at a mental ward killed themselves.  Its part of that wonderful character he has, he’s so charming with the ladies.  He does a rather neat trick by visiting Hell to find her.  He sits on a chair with a cat with his feet in water.  It’s odd but effective enough to be convincing if you ask me.  He brings a hospital band to prove it to Angela.  He found the band when Isabel tore it off and sent it through the air to him while in Hell.  It’s interesting that time stops when visiting Hell, while still on earth.  Later in the movie Angela still insists on seeing her sister in Hell.  She gets in a bathtub full of water while Constantine basically drowns her.  The bathtub suddenly shatters and the water goes everywhere while you see steam rising from Angela’s body.  She has seen her sister in Hell and finally believes the truth.  Now that didn’t take much convincing now did it?

A reward for reading my review.
                Constantine visits a doctor to confirm how sick he is and asks the doctor if he can be healed.  It’s funny when the doctor laughs saying twenty years ago you wanted to die but now you want to live.  His time ends up being limited due to his rapidly declining health.  He then visits Gabriel, a half-breed, who tells him passage to Heaven requires doing things for others.  Constantine tries to drive the point that his exorcisms aren’t for nothing but gets told back he’s doing it for his own gain in the end.

                Remember this guy?  Balthazar is a half-breed demon stirring up trouble by killing Constantine’s associates.  Constantine eventually gets infuriated with him and goes to his fancy high-rise to discover the truth about what’s going on.  He kills Balthazar but also loses Angela at the same time.  The son of Satan uses Angela’s body to attempt a passage to earth.  Constantine and Chas make a last ditch effort to stop him.  The dagger of destiny has made its way to L.A. along with many other half-breeds.  Gabriel is the half-breed providing the blood of God needed for Satan’s son to return.  It’s apparent that the blood of God is needed to restore the son of Satan to earth.  I still wonder why Gabriel would want to do this.  Does she want to have some kind of controlling power on earth?  I’m not sure how much better things would be for her with the son of Satan in charge.  Constantine is unable to exorcise the son of Satan perhaps because of a strength factor.

I've come to collect my soul John.
                He goes to the edge by committing suicide again to drag Satan (Peter Stormare) himself to retrieve his soul.  It’s been said Constantine’s soul is the only one he would come to get personally.  He informs Satan of Gabriel’s plot with his son leaving Satan to repel his son back to Hell and make Gabriel a mortal.  Satan knows Constantine wants something in return.  Satan knew better that Constantine would suicide a second time so he agrees to his request to allow Isabel passage to Heaven from Hell in exchange for his soul.  Constantine by doing so then sacrificed himself in the process, finally giving himself for another, he ascends toward Heaven when Satan angers and cures his lung ailment.  That leaves Constantine back on earth for a third chance.  Satan again seems to be extending Constantine’s life in hopes to get his soul in the future.

                Constantine learned what he must do now and makes the joke he only needed to die twice to figure it out.  It’s a solid movie actually, with action, intrigue and wicked special effects.  It has its moments of slow-paced scenes and happenings so bizarre you feel it might cross the line but it doesn’t hurt the overall film much.  I understand the story much more the second time around as I have seen it once before.  Keanu Reeves delivers quite a performance which fits the movie perfectly and Rachel Weisz leads well as the supporting role.  Peter Stormare really sells his role as Satan.  I can’t say I hate anything in particular about the movie and it remains a repeatable film to watch.  

                Rating: 8 of 10

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