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Constantine

Year: 2005
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Tilda Swinton, Peter Stormare, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Djimon Honsou
I'm always very interested in movies that deal with heaven, hell, God and the Devil. They can do it with stark seriousness (The Omen, Angel Heart) or high camp

But how would a comic book movie treat them? Peter Stormare's appearance as Satan come to collect Constantine's soul in the climax is well done, the steaming sludge dripping off his feet a nice touch. As is the way the whole mythos was handled (more thanks to the comic book than the movie).

There's no sweetness and light, the hero is automatically the good guy and we think he should go to heaven. The archangel Gabriel (Swinton, tailor made for the role) says it best; Constantine is going to die because he's smoked 30 cigarettes a day since he was 15, and he's going to hell because he lives his life for himself.

It's only when he offers to go with Satan in exchange for Angela's sister Isabel (both roles played by Weisz) that he finally learns the point of the sacrifice and feeling for others Gabriel, God, and the whole cornerstone of Christianity is supposed to be about. Even though that resolution to the conundrum was pretty Hollywood, I liked the conundrum.

And as a comic book adaptation, it had to have a few requisite fistfights, gun battles (Constantine storming through the hospital waiting room despatching demons with his holy 12 gauge like Neo through a storm of Agent Smiths in an example), but there was a lot more substance to the story behind the action film.

Constantine is an exorcist who's been to hell courtesy of his clinically dying at an early age - another result of which is that he can see demons and angels as they pass through our earthly plane.

When a police detective (Weisz) who's just lost her twin sister comes to help him, his relatively simple life of casting evil out of humanity with the help of a small circle of cohorts (including the irritating comic sidekick driver that could have been left out completely) is shaken up.

The girl's sister, it seems, has gone straight to hell because of their strict Catholicism and her apparent suicide, but Angela is convinced something drove her to it, and the race is on to find out what before Constantine - and the world's - time runs out.

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