Keanu Reeves may very well be a one-note actor, but he bangs his head against that one note quite emphatically, and it usually makes for a good movie. And while Constantine can’t be taken seriously enough to undo (or add on to) Stigmata’s anti-Catholic subversion, it sure as hell is a fun ride.Reeves takes the soul he sold to Satan in The Devil’s Advocate and his Matrix persona as the One, and molds it all into Constantine – a demon killer who gives exorcists everywhere a run for their money; he would've had Linda Blair back to normal before she ever got a chance to spin her head around.
Constantine investigates the supernatural underbelly of half-breeds, or part human, part devil and/or angel, beings that walk the streets everyday. But there’s a bigger plan for him that begins to unfold when he meets police detective Angela (Rachel Weisz), who seeks him out for enlightenment about her twin sister’s mysterious suicide.
Reeves’ fairly effective performance here is probably more a result of first-time director Francis Lawrence telling him to play it down, not necessarily his own raw talent – I think Reeves studied the William Shatner Priceline commercials as preparation for the acting in this film. But nevertheless, he’s perfect as Heaven’s hit-man, plagued with a lung cancer that is set to send him straight to Hell.
Many of the lines are pure cheese, the philosophy backing it all up is flimsily stated, and the plot is a little hard to sort through at times, but the comic book series that Constantine is based on is merely set-up for Lawrence’s thrilling action sequences and eye-popping glimpses into Hell. That’s not to say every scene of dialogue was scripted in haste or that only a lazy effort was put into the character development, but Constantine would be a really substandard affair if it weren’t for the digital mastery and extraordinarily paced suspense.There’s just enough newness and weirdness to keep Constantine continually entertaining and interesting, despite some of its moments of “you gotta be kidding me” and the two main characters are indeed a pair destined for Matrix-esque sequeldom. Pretty impressive for a directorial debut.