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Constantine (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES (2-DISC): Disc 1:- Audio commentary from director Francis Lawrence and Akiva Goldsman, Frank Cappello & Kevin Brodbin. 'Passive' music video from 'A Perfect Circle'.
Disc 2:- Deleted scenes, including an alternative ending. 'The Production From Hell' documentary gallery: Director's Confessional / Collision With Evil / Holy Relics. 'Imagining The Underworld' documentary gallery: Visualising Vermin / Warrior Kings / Unholy Abduction. 'Conjuring Constantine - From Comic Book To Film' featurette. 'Constantine Cosmology - The Mythology Behind The Movie' featurette. 'Foresight - The Power Of Pre-Visualisation' featurette. Easter Eggs (hidden features)

KEANU Reeves is no stranger to tussling with Satan given his track record in films such as Bill & Ted's Bogus Adventure and The Devil's Advocate, yet Constantine marks his most impressive bout yet.

Based on the popular DC Comics/Hellblazer graphic novels, the film is a visually stunning and frequently exciting exploration of heaven and hell, as witnessed through the eyes of its central protagonist.

Reeves is the John Constantine of the title, a cancer-ridden, sarcastic mortal, who has literally been to hell and back.

Born with a gift he did not want, the ability to clearly recognise the half-breed angels and demons that roam the earth, he attempted to take his own life, only to be resuscitated against his will.

Now, marked as an attempted suicide with a temporary lease on life, he patrols the earthly border between heaven and hell - or Los Angeles, to you and me - in a desperate bid to gain salvation by sending the devil's foot-soldiers back to hell.

When he is approached by Rachel Weisz's desperate police detective, Angela Dodson, however, to investigate the apparent suicide of her twin sister, Constantine suddenly finds himself thrust into the middle of a wager between God and the Devil for the souls of all mankind.

The ensuing action-adventure finds Constantine racing against time to prevent the unthinkable from happening, while battling his own personal torment in a bid to earn a place back on the stairway to heaven.

And for the most part, it's a supremely enjoyable thrill-ride packed with terrific special effects and a wonderful array of oddball characters - Tilda Swinton and Djimon Hounsou, especially, make the right sort of impression.

Reeves is great fun as the deeply sarcastic hero, while Weisz cuts a suitably spiky heroine, and both do well not to be drowned out by the special effects.

What's more, the look and feel of the film is such that viewers should feel suitably edgy throughout, particularly as first-time director, Francis Lawrence, knows how to sustain tension.

From its thrilling opening moments (which include an impressive exorcism) to the moment Constantine starts twiddling his holy shotgun, audiences are likely to be enthralled.

It's just a shame that Lawrence fails to deliver a conclusion that truly satisfies, preferring to revert to overly familiar good-versus-evil battles that present the hero with his inevitable moment of reckoning.

You can pretty much guess the outcome after a certain point although an added scene after the end credits is well worth hanging around for.

Criticisms aside, however, Constantine does enough to guarantee that fans of both the graphic novels and Reeves in general should be in for one hell of a good time.

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