Constantine (2005)

(In theaters, February 2005) It took ninety seconds and the non-revelation of a Nazi flag to make me warm up to the film, and nothing that came after that could shake my happy contentment. Sure, the plot is just good enough to make us wish for something better. Sure, this comic-book adaptation is an abomination for fans of the original Hellblazer. Sure, the supernatural eyeball kicks are thrown into the film without regard for coherence or plausibility. Sure, you may not like Keanu Reeves constrained performances. But I do, so ha. Plus, I like Tilda Swinton and Rachel Weisz even more, so I’m not complaining. The upshot is that Constantine is pleasant enough for its entire duration despite a few lengths toward the end. Hey: I’m such a visual effects film geek that I’m likely to enjoy anything that has a whiff of competence. With this first film, director Francis Lawrence delivers a self-assured piece of visually ambitious supernatural suspense. It’s often very funny (and not in an obvious catchphrase kind of way, more in an offbeat Satan-in-a-leisure suit fashion) and just as often weird enough to be fascinating. Not a classic (nor even the best possible way to deal with the elements assembled here), but more than good enough to warrant a look.

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