Crapstantine: Even Keanu Reeves’ ‘amazing’ acting talents can’t save audiences from this movie

By By Jenni Koehler

By Jenni Koehler

“Constantine”Warner Bros. Pictures, 2005Directed by Francis LawrenceWritten by Kevin Brodbin, Mark Bomback and Frank CapelloBased on the DC/Vertigo comic book “Hellblazer” by Jamie Delano and Garth Ennis Starring Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Tilda Swinton, Gavin Rossdale, Peter StormareOpens Feb. 18Rated R/121 minutes

One out of four stars

Once again, Keanu Reeves has managed to star in a good vs. evil action film with biblical undertones, in which he, of course, plays the savior.

How very exciting.

As a nice change of pace, this Reeves-a-thon takes place in the “real world,” where half-breed angels and demons walk the earth, trying to influence humanity so that the bet made between God and the Devil can be settled.

“Constantine” centers on the disillusioned and bitter John Constantine (Reeves), whose ability to see these half-human Mudbloods when he was young caused him to take his own life. After being resuscitated, he returns to earth with knowledge of hell and a fervent desire to never go back.

Logically, Constantine decides to devote the rest of his life to smoking and carrying out God’s work-that is, performing exorcisms and sending those demons back to hell.

In other words, he’s trying to buy his way into heaven.

Along comes a skeptical but desperate police detective, Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz), who appeals to Constantine for his help in proving that the death of her devoutly Catholic twin sister Isabel (also played by Weisz) was not a suicide…because that apparently matters a whole lot.

But something’s changing in the balance between heaven and hell, and Constantine will need the help of everyone he’s got (all five of them) to save Angela and the rest of the world from the powers of evil. The ensuing battle plunges our hero and heroine into the depths of hell, bringing them face to face with demons and even Lucifer himself. Who will win? Will Constantine ever quit smoking? And is Gabriel (Tilda Swinton) a man or a woman?

“Constantine’s” above-average special effects help make the rest of this suck-fest slightly more believable and almost unsettling-something the abysmal, often ludicrous dialogue fails to do.

Unfortunately, it appears as if Reeves only has one method of acting (a proud graduate of the “Dude, what’s my line?” school) and one voice in which to deliver all his lines. He seems to say in every scene, “Look at me, I’m so profound, and such a badass.”

Even though he is dying of lung cancer and fighting off demons left and right, Reeves as Constantine is very one-dimensional and rather boring to watch when he’s not in some sort of action sequence. His portrayal of the cynical renegade hero falls as flat as Neo when he first entered the Matrix.

Nevertheless, it’s awfully hilarious to watch Reeves dramatically quote the Bible (his 23 Psalm is absolutely riveting), make faux-deep declarations (“God’s just a kid with an antfarm”), and attempt to cough up a lung due to his severe lung cancer.

The movie’s sole redeeming quality comes in the performances of everyone else, especially Weisz. She somehow manages to breathe life into her conversations with Reeves and the torturously cheesy script.

Another positive presence, Shia LaBeouf plays Chaz, Constantine’s driver and wannabe apprentice. His dorky charm helps to lighten the dark, brooding mood set by Reeves. The suave and sophisticated half-demon Balthazar (Gavin Rossdale, of Bush rock stardom) adds some color as well, if only through his fashionable attire.

Projecting itself as a deeply thought provoking and a thrilling spectacle, “Constantine” completely fails to live up to its hype. It’s about as believable as Reeves’ hacking cough. Dude, whatever happened to Ted?

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