zuhair vazir’s review published on Letterboxd:
I thought lawyers didn't exorcise demons
This one does.
Keanu Reeves plays the chain-smoking, cross toting, no bullshit, no matrix (thanks to director Francis Lawrence) John Constantine, a tortured man who is destined to hell for committing suicide, twice and a life plagued with demons and cough syrup.
Constantine begins with an exotic set-piece, almost Gothic if not for the open windows, which our man and the plot require, where Neo is shown performing an exorcism on a girl. The scene establishes a sense of dismissal for a job well done only to be replaced by an even more daunting thought of what Constantine has to say about the exorcism and how it was different and also carried with it a distressing omen.
With Bible and stuttering faith as his weapons he teams up with the lovely Rachel Weisz; Det. Angela Dodson is a pleasure to watch as she balances her way through Biblical visuals of Hell to her job as a rational woman of law who carries a gun and bloody well uses it.
Although not quite familiar with the graphic novel of the same name by Garth Ennis and Jamie Delano (the pair also wrote for the film) the film is a mix-goody-bag of old-school comic book adaptation and the new wave of graphic novel 'oh so serious' (apologies) adaptations that have swept the movie-goers by a swing of Loki's Scepter.
Constantine is a fast paced action-fantasy (with some kinks of a) thriller, that is full of ideas, lovely ideas and grand imagery. Gabriel's suit is simply fabulous, and Swinton convinces us of her portrayal of a fallen angel with a loathing for authority.
Reeves smokes Chinese cigarettes, goes to hell, smokes even more Chinese cigarettes, goes through walls, smokes two packs in less than fifteen minutes of screen-time and almost goes to heaven, smokes like Jack Torrance's ears and battles with demon and himself throughout the film, until he has to stop like a watch ought to, sometime or the other, when the big boys start talking.
Lucifer wears Gucci and lights up a cigarette for Constantine as he speaks to the decaying Johnny Boy about life and taking sides. The point being that the film is full of grand comic-book storytelling, which is always fun if executed well. And this one is a tortured soul seeking redemption in all the wrong places.
Gabriel after telling Constantine that he is going to Hell: 'You're fucked.'
I liked it very much.