This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Locke.’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Ever wondered how Blade Runner would play, had the Replicants been replaced by demons and Harrison Ford replaced by Keanu Reeves?
I remember owning this film on DVD and being extremely disappointed by just how poor it looked on that format. I don’t know what encoding they used but the compression, artefacts and macro-blocking were so rife I may as well have just downloaded it from the internet. Thankfully, as expected from a BD, it’s a huge leap in quality in terms of both visuals and audio - although I did notice a few occasions of digital tinkering that gave some scenes a disappointingly waxy look. Either way, this is well worth a pick up for fans of the movie.
With Constantine’s unrelenting pace, things can feel a little muddled as you try and work out the rules that bound the universe Constantine fights within but despite Constantine coming just before the “great superhero boom” it actually feels more relevant ten years later than it might have in 2005 when it failed to really find an audience. Straying too far from the source material but to many not strong enough in its own right either (although I don't agree with either notion, I've loved the film since the first watch), in 2015 it may now find a whole new audience thanks to it now functioning like the perfect answer to all of our comic book fatigue.
This admittedly beautifully shot, beautifully dressed picture may have felt low key to a fault once upon a time, this is more of a horror film than it really is an action film - even when there is action, it's noticeably restrained and heavily stylised - but after so many superhero films which fill their whole final hour with nonstop crashing, banging and exploding (all done digitally too, I might add, ugh) to have a film which depicts the battle for the world as something this small a scale now feels ironically inspired.
Most importantly for most, though, I am sure is that almost all notion of “origin story” is utterly discarded save for brief flashes of exposition. The film starts, practically, at our heroes ending and goes from there, his legacy is already established and his world is already built. See Marvel, this can be done!
Allowed to keep both his native accent and his natural hair colour Reeves is clearly playing less John Constantine from the comics and instead a role written completely for Reeves in mind, the principle may indeed be wrong but it’s certainly the best decision for the picture specifically. Making the most of his very limited range, Reeves' near wooden acting perfectly suits and accentuates Constantine - we truly believe he is a man who has seen things no one would ever want to see, that the weight of this past and his present is like lead shoes dragging him back to hell and his pitch perfect line delivery truly perfects Constantine’s wry sense of humour, asshole. Greatest scene of someone ascending to heaven, ever?
Rachel Weisz gets a wonderfully complex dual role that she handles with grace and finesse and perfectly holds her own against Reeves when they share a frame. A romance is hinted between them which may cause a unified groan but they never even get to the point of sharing a kiss and I really like it that way. For all the people crying out that the comic book genre is lacking in good, female, presences, look no further than Angela.
Tilda Swinton in all her androgynous, ethereal, otherworldlyness is so perfect for Gabriel it’s hard to believe I ever enjoyed Walken doing the creature in another great angels vs demons series. It’s just a shame that Gabriel’s ultimate plan is one of such utter nonsense, although they use an insanity clause to explain that away to some degree of success. Or maybe it's just because Swinton is such a good actress that she sells it anyway.
The wonderful Djimon Hounsou turns up as Papa Midnite and is so damn cool in those few brief frames that you wish the film came out ten years later so he could have potentially got his own spin off.
The master of camp, scenery chewing glory, Peter Stormare, gets to not only sink his teeth into Lucifer (which he does very well) but as a Lucifer really unlike what we’ve seen on screen before. He may only get one scene but it’s one of the best damn scenes in the whole film.
Overall, considering how the film ends, but also how successful the film was too, I am honestly surprised there never was a sequel to this - and I’m also extremely disappointed by that fact too. Still, there are whispers of a new Constantine film on the way, produced by Del-Toro (let’s hope it’s nothing like Mama, although more slutty Chastain would be fine by me) and I really do hope he can both assemble the same brilliant cast but also manage to recapture this films tone and feel.
At least for now I have the BD to watch over and over again - which I have and will be doing. And it's something you should be doing too!