Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Truly Great Films #10

A remarkable movie....and the best 
performances are not by humans

"God's a kid with an ant farm. He's not planning anything."

First things first. I am not Catholic, and don't share some of their values...specifically that committing suicide automatically earns you a trip to Hell.

Suicide is a very sad way for your life to end, but 98 % of successful suicides are the result of a treatable mental illness. A shame, really.

That God loves us is a given, and I think that love would even extend to those poor souls with serious issues that they couldn't overcome...resulting in jumping off a bridge or overdosing on pills.

Regardless, I liked Constantine very much, despite the fact that the premise relies on the whole world is Catholic and plays by those rules.

In this realm, God and Satan are gambling for souls, and possessed people - called half-breeds - are everywhere in all sorts of business.

More importantly, the forces of good have all types of tricks up their sleeve to keep the dark side at bay.

And the most important tool the good side has is John Constantine...

Constantine opened back in 2005, but was not well received critically - although it did well in the box office.

Keanu Reeves - in a role that perfectly suits him - is Constantine, who committed suicide at 15, but survived.

Now, as an adult, he's dying of lung cancer - and an exorcist of sorts - but he also knows all the various weapons needed to combat evil beings.

The movie opens with John Constantine performing an exorcism on a little girl.

This is not a normal event, though, as the possessing agent is an evil soldier that has never tried to come through to our side before.

Constantine begins investigating with his friends Beeman (the wonderful Pruitt Taylor Vince) and Chaz. (Shia LaBeouf)

Constantine is approached by a police detective named Angela Dodson (Rachel Wiesz), who is upset because her twin sister - a powerful, institutionalized psychic - has committed suicide and won't be buried by the Church.

In an effort to learn more about what happened to Dodson's sister, Constantine takes a little side trip to Hell in one of the best sequences of the movie.

They discover that Mammon - Lucifer's son - is looking to take over the family business, and needs a psychic like Dodson's sister to put everything in motion.

I am going to stop here. You need to either discover or rediscover this film for yourself. Constantine is very well made, wonderfully acted and has surprisingly good special effects.

There is a problem, however....

lot of backstory was cut from the final edit. You need to know this, and perhaps study up a little bit on the mythology behind Constantine - which comes from a comic book called Hellblazer.

There are three notable performances from actors that I really like in this movie.

Dijimon Hounsou plays Papa Midnite, a reformed occultist, witch doctor and old friend of Constantine. He has access to all sorts of strange stuff - such as an electric chair used at Sing Sing prison.

Tilda Swinton plays the Archangel Gabriels in a role that is perfect for her unusual beauty.

But the scene-stealing granddaddy is Peter Stormare as Lucifer. He's so diabolical, funny and scary it beggars belief.

Best line of the movie?

John Constantine asks Lucifer if it's all right if he lights up a cigarette.

"Go right ahead. I got stock."

You seriously need to see this movie if you haven't already. One nice thing about Constantine is that has aged very well, and I think will continue to do so.

The director - Francis Lawrence mostly messes about with music videos.

I think they should let him do more films.

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