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Lovingly hewn from his usual stack of four-by-twos, Keanu Reeves’ plank-like reincarnation of grumpy, chain-smoking exorcist-about-town John Constantine may not bear much resemblance to the original blond, British, working-class demon dick in DC Comics’ Hellblazer series, but it does give more than a passing nod to a certain ‘Neo’. Born a reluctant saviour of us all, torn ’twixt two realities by his second-sight ability to see the half-breed angels and demons that walk among us, Constantine killed himself at the age of 15, only to earn a two-minute tour of Hell (which looks like LA, in case you’re wondering), a dose of lung cancer (Keanu says: don’t smoke, kids) and a return ticket back to purgatory on Earth.

So far, his craven attempts to bob-a-job his way into Heaven by saving souls have failed to impress Him upstairs: as androgyne Gabriel (Tilda Swinton) sweetly puts it, ‘You’re fucked’. Until Rachel (acting her socks off) Weisz’s sceptical cop Angela (subtle) asks him to investigate the death of her twin sister, offering Consters one final shot at true self-sacrifice. Darker than ‘Hellboy’, more complex than ‘Elektra’, this latest speech-bubble-to-screen adaptation creaks more towards the good (godlike Coen Bros fave Peter Stormare as Satan) than the bad (Reeves! Reeves! Reeves! Burn!) thanks largely to an intriguingly twisted script and the admirable CGI-restraint of Justin Timberlake’s video-director, Francis Lawrence. Proof perhaps that the devil does indeed have the best tunes… until evil triumphs and Constantine topples into a hell-fire of plot Babel that makes ‘The Matrix Revolutions’ seem clear as the Pope and an unholy Devil ex Machina twist that’s entirely beyond redemption.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday March 18 2005
Duration: 121 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Francis Lawrence
Screenwriter: Frank Cappello, Kevin Brodbin
Cast: Gavin Rossdale
Peter Stormare
Rachel Weisz
Keanu Reeves
Tilda Swinton
Pruitt Taylor Vince
Djimon Hounsou
Max Baker
Shia LaBeouf
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