Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Francis Lawrence|
|Produced by||Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Lauren Shuler Donner
Michael E. Uslan
|Screenplay by||Kevin Brodbin
|Story by||Kevin Brodbin|
Pruitt Taylor Vince
|Music by||Klaus Badelt
|Editing by||Wayne Wahrman|
|Studio||Village Roadshow Pictures
Vertigo DC Comics
Weed Road Pictures
The Donners' Company
3 Arts Entertainment
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Running time||121 minutes|
Constantine is a 2005 American action horror film directed by Francis Lawrence as his directorial debut, starring Keanu Reeves as John Constantine, with Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton, and Djimon Hounsou. With a screenplay by Kevin Brodbin and Frank Capello, the film is based on Vertigo Comics' Hellblazer comic book, with plot elements taken from the "Dangerous Habits" story arc (issues #41-46) and the "Original Sins" trade paperback. The character of John Constantine was introduced by noted comic book writer/creator Alan Moore while writing the Swamp Thing (comic book), first appearing there in June 1985.
In 1988, the character of John Constantine was given his own comic book title, Hellblazer, published by DC Comics under its Vertigo Comics imprint. The “Dangerous Habits” story arc of Hellblazer was written by Garth Ennis in 1991, from which the film is partly based. The film, which was met by film critics with mixed reactions, portrays John Constantine as a cynic with the ability to perceive and communicate with half-angels and half-demons in their true form. He seeks salvation from eternal damnation in Hell for a suicide attempt in his youth. Constantine exorcises demons back to Hell in a bid to earn favor with Heaven but has become weary over time. With death looming, he helps a troubled police detective learn the truth about her sister's death while simultaneously unraveling a much larger and darker plot.
Constantine was released in the United States and Canada on February 18, 2005 and in Hong Kong on February 8, 2005. Box Office Mojo reports Constantine earned nearly $30 million at the North American box office on its opening weekend, making it the second highest earning movie for that weekend. It went on to earn $75,976,178 at the North American box office and a total of $230,884,728 around the world.
John Constantine is an exorcist who lives in Los Angeles. Born with the power to see angels and demons on Earth, he committed suicide at age 15 after being unable to cope with his visions. Constantine was revived by paramedics but spent two minutes in Hell. He knows that because of his actions his soul is condemned to damnation when he dies, and has recently learned that he has developed cancer as a result of his smoking habit.
After a case involving a full-fledged demon trying to break onto the "human plane," Constantine seeks an audience with the androgynous half-breed angel Gabriel (Tilda Swinton). He asks Gabriel for a reprieve from death so that he can continue fighting demons, which Gabriel declines. Constantine is told that his exorcisms will not gain him a reprieve from Hell because his motives are selfish. As he leaves, Constantine repels an attack by a full-fledged demon out in the open. This encounter prompts him to meet with former witch doctor Papa Midnite. While there Constantine also encounters half-breed demon Balthazar (Gavin Rossdale), who informs him that all of Hell is waiting for him to die and that he is the one soul Satan would come to Earth personally to collect. Constantine begins investigating the situation with his associates Beeman, Hennessy, and Chas Kramer. L.A.P.D. Detective Angela Dodson also shows up at Constantine's apartment looking for his help with her investigation into her twin sister Isabel's death. Isabel leapt to her death from the top of a mental hospital, and despite camera footage showing it Angela is convinced that Isabel would never commit suicide. At first Constantine mocks her and denies her request for help, but after demons attack Angela on the street outside Constantine agrees to look into her sister's death. He informs Angela that God and Lucifer are engaged in a proxy war; a standing wager for the souls of all mankind. Neither true angels nor demons can manifest on Earth, but they are allowed to possess and influence humans. Both sides also use "half-breeds" to peddle influence for their cause.
Hennessy and Beeman's findings lead Constantine to the conclusion that Mammon, Lucifer's son, is seeking to create his own kingdom on Earth by breaking through onto the human plane. To do so, Mammon requires a powerful psychic and assistance from God. Balthazar begins killing Constantine's associates and Angela reveals that she and her sister possessed the same gift as Constantine. Angela refused her visions and they went dormant, but Isabel tried to tell everyone about them and was institutionalized for it. Constantine reawakens Angela's psychic ability through a near death experience, then hunts down and interrogates Balthazar who reveals that Mammon has obtained the Spear of Destiny, which has the blood of Jesus Christ encrusted on it. The psychic Mammon needs is Angela, who is abducted by an unseen force and taken to Isabel's hospital to be used as the portal for Mammon’s entrance to Earth. Constantine convinces Midnite to allow him to use "The Chair", an old electric chair from Sing Sing Prison that had killed over 200 inmates. The Chair shows Constantine a vision that the spear was discovered in Mexico and has been brought to Los Angeles. Constantine and Chas head to the hospital and interrupt the ritual, but Chas is beaten to death by an unseen force in the process.
Using incantations and sigils tattooed on his arms, Constantine forces Gabriel to be revealed. Gabriel subdues Constantine immediately and reveals that the plan to release Mammon was Gabriel's. Gabriel laments God’s favoritism towards humans and believes that bringing Hell to Earth will enable those who survive to become truly worthy of God’s love through repentance and faith. Gabriel then throws Constantine from the room and begins to draw forth Mammon. As Gabriel moves to stab Angela with the Spear and release Mammon, Constantine slits his wrists. Time stops as Lucifer arrives to personally collect his soul. Constantine tells Lucifer about Mammon’s plan and Lucifer sends Mammon back to Hell. When Gabriel attempts to smite Lucifer, the angel's wings are burned to stubs. In return for his help, Lucifer grants Constantine a favor. Instead of a longer life, he asks Lucifer to allow Isabel to go to Heaven. Lucifer then finds that he is unable to drag Constantine to Hell, due to Constantine's self sacrifice Constantine begins to rise into Heaven. Infuriated by the idea of losing Constantine's soul, Lucifer heals his wounds and cures him of his cancer so that he may live again, claiming that Constantine, in time, will become damned, again. Constantine departs with the Spear after refusing the temptation to kill Gabriel, and gives the Spear to Angela instructing her to hide it, then forget it. As he watches her leave, instead of producing a cigarette, he starts to chew on some nicotine gum.
In closing, Constantine visits Chas' grave. He leaves his lighter that he always used. When he leaves, Chas appears as an angel with wings and flies upward to the sky. Constantine smiles, shakes his head and leaves.
- Keanu Reeves as John Constantine, a chain-smoking cynical individual with the ability to perceive the true visage of half-angels and half-demons on the human plane. Constantine is damned to Hell for committing suicide—a mortal sin—and has terminal lung cancer.
- Rachel Weisz
- As Isabel Dodson, a powerful psychic and involuntarily committed mental patient with the ability to see half-demons and half-angels. She is damned to Hell for committing suicide.
- As Angela Dodson, a troubled Los Angeles Police Department Detective investigating what she believes to be the murder of her twin sister, Isabel.
- Shia LaBeouf as Chas Kramer, John Constantine's driver and student. Kramer has a strong interest in the occult and helps Constantine whenever possible in order to gain knowledge and experience from him.
- Tilda Swinton as Gabriel, an androgynous, half-breed angel with a disdain for humanity.
- Pruitt Taylor Vince as Father Hennessy, an insomniac, alcoholic priest with the ability to communicate with the dead. He constantly drinks in order to "keep the voices out".
- Djimon Hounsou as Papa Midnite, a former witch-doctor who once fought against Hell. After swearing an oath of neutrality - unless one side should tip the balance of power - he opened a nightclub to serve as neutral meeting ground for both sides of the war between Heaven and Hell.
- Gavin Rossdale as Balthazar, a half-breed demon with a special penchant for, and personal history with, Constantine.
- Peter Stormare as Lucifer, a fallen angel who is in a proxy war with God for the souls of all mankind. Lucifer loathes Constantine with such vigor that Constantine's is the only soul which he would ever come to personally collect.
- Max Baker as Beeman, a friend of Constantine's with a liking for exotic materials and insects. He serves as both a supplier of holy objects and relayer of information to Constantine.
|This section requires expansion with: Further production details. (October 2010)|
Constantine was written using some elements from Garth Ennis’ "Dangerous Habits" story arc (issues #41–46) and others—such as the inclusion of Papa Midnite—from the Original Sins trade paperback. However, the film changed several aspects of the source material, including a number of cosmetic changes to the lead character’s appearance: Reeves played the role with his natural accent and hair colour whilst the original character was intentionally drawn to resemble English musician Sting and originally came from Liverpool. The film was also set in Los Angeles, with the director pointing out that the comic book was not exclusively set in London either.
Other differences to the character were made, such as giving him the psychic ability to see "half-breeds" as they truly are. That ability, in the film, is what caused him to attempt suicide and which led to his damnation rather than his role in summoning a demon that killed a young girl. The resolution of the lung cancer plotline in the film was also amended, with Lucifer saving the redeemed Constantine to give him a second chance at falling rather than being tricked into doing so as was seen in the comic book. Scenes with actress Michelle Monaghan as Constantine's lover, a half-breed demon named Ellie based on the succubus Ellie in the Hellblazer comics, were cut from the movie to make Constantine more of a lonely character.
The film’s title was changed from Hellblazer to Constantine to avoid confusion with the Clive Barker Hellraiser films. The comics series itself was originally to be titled Hellraiser but was also retitled to avoid confusion with the film, released the previous year.
Director Francis Lawrence decided to base the idea of Hell "on the geography of what's around us now." He further explained:
That was actually a combination of me and the visual effects supervisor and the production designer sitting down and sort of coming up with the biological growth that’s growing all over the cars and what that looks like and the color palette. And we started to look at the nuclear test films from the 1940s of the nuclear blasts and just decided that it would be great if the landscape was not only violent with these creatures, but also the atmosphere. So we decided that it was kind of an eternal nuclear blast except nothing ever really gets obliterated because it's eternal and it's constantly going.
The novelization further describes Hell's setting in that the buildings are lined with blood instead of mortar and built with the souls of the damned rather than brick.
|Constantine: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Brian Tyler and Klaus Badelt|
|Released||February 15, 2005|
Constantine: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is a 2005 soundtrack album from the film of the same name. The soundtrack is an orchestral compilation of songs in the film, performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony and composed by Brian Tyler, composer for films such as Eagle Eye and Fast & Furious, and Klaus Badelt, composer for Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean film series.
The songs "Passive" by A Perfect Circle (released in conjunction with the film and heard in the walk through Midnite’s bar) and "Take Five" by The Dave Brubeck Quartet (heard on a record played by Constantine) were not included. The soundtrack was panned by Allmusic, who referred to it as "clichéd and religiously formulaic."
|2.||"The Cross Over"||2:42|
|3.||"Meet John Constantine"||2:39|
|5.||"Deo et Patri"||1:16|
|7.||"Into the Light"||2:54|
|8.||"I Left Her Alone"||1:40|
|10.||"Circle of Hell"||5:38|
|12.||"Encountering a Twin"||1:06|
|13.||"Flight to Ravenscar"||0:52|
|16.||"Someone Was Here"||1:44|
|24.||"Constantine End Titles"||2:39|
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (April 2011)|
Constantine was a financial success, grossing $230,884,728 in worldwide gross sales. To tie into the films release, a novelization by John Shirley and a video game adaption of the film was also produced. Warner Home Video announced that the film was to be released on HD DVD on March 28, 2006.[dead link] It would be one of the earliest titles to be released on that media format. However, following delays to the launch of the HD DVD format (which pushed back the release of many of the initially announced titles), Constantine eventually made its debut on HD DVD on June 6, 2006. Warner Home Video released a Blu-ray Disc version of the film on October 14, 2008.
Critical response 
Constantine was met by critics with mixed reviews. At the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a normalized rating of 46% based on the reviews of 214 critics with an average rating of 5.5/10. At Metacritic, an aggregation site which assigns a weighted average, the film holds a rating of 50 out of 100 based on the reviews of 41 critics.
Richard Corliss of Time magazine praised the film calling it "a one-of-a-kind hybrid: a theological noir action film". In crediting the actors, he specifically cited Keanu Reeves' ability to "retain his charisma in [a] weird-silly moment" in addition to the performances of Tilda Swinton whom he referred to as "immaculately decadent". He also praised Francis Lawrence's usage of a significant number of camera locations and angles. He was, however, critical of the movie's climax, referring to it as "irrevocably goofy".
Ella Taylor of L.A. Weekly gave the film positive feedback, as did Carina Chocano of the Los Angeles Times who each respectively stated, "Constantine, which opts in the end for what I can only describe as a kind of supernatural humanism, is not without its spiritual satisfactions." and, "Keanu Reeves has no peer when it comes to playing these sort of messianic roles—he infuses them with a Zen blankness and serenity that somehow gets him through even the unlikeliest scenes with a quiet, unassuming dignity."
Pete Vonder Haar of Film Threat gave the film 3 stars out of 5, stating that "the film (barely) succeeds, thanks to impressive visuals, the idea of an uncaring God wagering with Satan for souls, and two immensely enjoyable scenes (one with Weisz, one with Stormare) in which Reeves actually plays his character as the cynical asshole he really is."[unreliable source] He further lamented Keanu Reeves' acting by stating that the film hinged upon Reeves' ability to portray the character of John Constantine—and fails upon his inability to pull it off. He compared his performance to being in a "dazed countenance". "John Constantine is supposedly a world-weary cynic, unsentimental and aloof thanks to his years of demon busting, but Reeves seems incapable of projecting this. He manages well enough during the fight scenes, and had Constantine been more of a straight-up action picture, this would be sufficient. Horror seems out of his league, sadly." He was highly in favor of the performances of Djimon Honsou and Peter Stormare, though he found them to be underutilized. Additionally, he applauded the work of Rachel Weisz in the film. He praised Francis Lawrence's ability to set up a horror environment, citing the film's environmental depictions—especially of Hell, its CGI work, and "creepy" atmosphere but took issue with numerable plot holes and inconsistencies depicted in the film.
Jack Matthews of the New York Daily News gave the film a 2.5 out of 5, stating, "For all its spiritual angst, Constantine is about as silly as fantasies get."[not in citation given] Michael Sragow of The Baltimore Sun also gave the film a 2.5 out of 5, stating, "It all comes off as a case of filmmakers wanting to have their communion wafer and eat it, too."[not in citation given] Desson Thomson, a writer for The Washington Post, had similar sentiments of the film, specifically panning the film's distancing from the series of graphic novels upon which it is based:
If you are a fan of the "Hellblazer" comic book series, on which this movie is based, you'll definitely need a distraction. The relation between Constantine and its source material is, at best, superfluous. The disparity starts with the original John Constantine (Reeves's character) being from Liverpool, England. Reeves from the city of John and Paul? As if.
Leonard Maltin's annual publication "TV Movies" gives the film a BOMB rating, describing it as "dreary, to say the least."
Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 1.5 out of 4 stars, panning the depiction of hell ("a post-nuclear Los Angeles created by animators with a hangover"), the premise of the film itself, ("You would think that God would be the New England Patriots of this contest, but apparently there is a chance that Satan could win."), plot holes, inconsistencies, and general actions depicted throughout the film. He was not particularly critical of the film's acting, only mentioning it by stating, "Reeves has a deliberately morose energy level in the movie, as befits one who has seen hell, walks among half-demons, and is dying. He keeps on smoking."
Potential sequel 
In a 2011 interview with MTV Splash Page director Francis Lawrence spoke of a potential sequel, saying:
"It's interesting that over the years, 'Constantine' seems like it's become... like it has this sort of cult following, which has been great [...] It's been embraced [...] It would be great to figure out a sequel, and if we did, and we've been trying to figure one out, it would be great to do the really dark, scary [version] [...] We got caught in that weird PG-13 - R no man's land, and we should do the hard-R scary version, which I would love to do."
In November 2012, it was reported that Guillermo del Toro and Warner Bros. are considering a movie featuring DC Comics' supernatural characters, which includes John Constantine. It isn't confirmed if it'll be connected to the film or if Keanu Reeves will reprise his role.
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- "Interview with 'Constantine' director Francis Lawrence". Horror.com. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
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- Taylor, Ella (2005-02-17). "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered". LAWeekly.com. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- Chocano, Carina (2005-02-18). "Constantine: When superpowers collide, in this case God and Satan, John Constantine comes to the rescue". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- Vonder Haar, Pete (2005-02-19). "Constantine". Film Threat. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- Matthews, Jack (2005-02-15). "Constantine". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- Sragow, Michael (2005-02-15). "Constantine". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- Thomson, Desson (2005-02-18). "'Constantine': Far From Heaven". WashingtonPost.com. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
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- Marshall, Rick (May 3, 2011). "'Constantine' Director Hoping To Make 'Hard-R, Scary' Sequel". SplashPage.MTV.com. MTV. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
- Melrose, Kevin (November 9, 2012). "Del Toro Says He's 'Discussing' Justice League Dark-Style Movie". ComicBookResources.com. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
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- Official website
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