When I’d first heard that Keanu Reeves had been cast as comic book hero John Constantine, I laughed. Because I thought it was a joke. You see, anyone who is familiar with the Hellblazer comics knows that KeKe (as I call him) is a long-arm’s throw from the character depicted in the graphic series. KeKe is not blond, he’s not British, and he’s not nearly as, for want of a better word, “smirky.”
As it turns out, they weren’t kidding: Keanu does play the anti-hero in the feature film. I saw it this weekend, regardless of the mixed reviews and my own misgivings. Perhaps it’s because my expectations were almost nil, but Constantine wasn’t that bad. I mean, granted I was expecting nothing, so almost anything would have been a boost. But on my grand scale of the worst movies I’ve ever seen (these include: Daredevil, Vampire’s Kiss, Underworld, and Queen of the Damned), Constantine was nowhere near the bottom.
Why is it that all the worst movies I’ve ever seen are genre movies, anyway? Chalk it up to the fact that it’s harder to make a good genre movie, I guess, or that people (like me) who go to see genre movies are more finicky. But that’s another discussion for another time.
The cons of Constantine include:
* A wee bit too long; even though it only clocks in at 121 minutes, it seems much longer
* Some strange edits; even though the movie seems long, there are moments where it seems like big chunks are missing
* A total lack of chemistry between Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz (although this isn’t entirely a bad thing)
* Good visual effects
* The story manages to work around KeKe’s wooden acting (he apparently has only one setting for “serious”)
* Tilda Swinton as Gabriel is particularly good
In other words, this movie isn’t a complete waste of time. And with the right kinds of friends, it’s the kind of movie that a group could discuss on a number of levels well into the early morning, possibly while holed up at an IHOP somewhere. (This is something we did often in college, so maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic.) At any rate, Constantine makes a nice little appetizer to tide viewers over until the flood of bigger, jucier summer movies on the menu: Batman Begins, Star Wars: Episode III, War of the Worlds, and so on.