Hell wants him. Heaven won't take him. Earth needs him.
Do you remember the time before the Marvel menace, when all comic movies were just the worst thing ever? Ha! Trick question, there was no such time! Alright, according to some there was, but quite frankly there's always been good ones and bad ones in my opinion, and largely since I'm just looking to be entertained and judge things on a personal enjoyment level more so than the critical gross profit success that companies really care about, I've enjoyed a comic-themed movie that was released way back in 1981 (which may not have been the actual first one I saw in my lifetime, but is probably one of the oldest ones film chronology wise). In recent years, I've become a bit burnt out on them - not because they are bad movies in any sense, but purely on the saturation of them. Still, I figured that we might as well go back at least a little ways and check out Constantine and see how that one holds up.
As is generally typical, I'm not familiar with the source for this. When it came to comics, i might dabble in them, but the only one's I ever hit really hard were the Alien and Predator franchise, and some G.I.JOE. This could flavor my entertainment levels, since there is no requirements standing where "it's too different, therefore this is garbage." You'd be surprised by how many people can't set aside their attachment to something when it comes to adaptations - but it's an important aspect for some people. Still, I swear that at one point someone told me that if nothing else it was a noble attempt at it as far as the source goes, but I can't form a personal opinion on it. As long as it involves a somewhat jerkish demon-fighting hero in a supernatural charged environment with a major smoking problem, it's at least accurate in principal.
In that regard, this movie feels like it would be right up the alley of anyone whose a fan of supernatural, or Supernatural (the television show). The title character has a bit of a flair about him, and does go through a bit of a character arc over the course of the movie - even if it might be a bit simple for those who crave super in-depth characters. It has some moments of humor, although they will be rather hit or miss, and with some fancy gadgets it can feel a bit Batman at times. It really only dwells on demons and angels as far as the supernatural goes - making it a bit more religious, which can potentially offend some people who are hard into religion and don't like other interpretations of their belief. Still, other aspects such as spells and psychics also make an appearance in some form or another.
The plot tries and deliver some twists and turns, but perhaps just from the over consumption of media I don't foresee too many people having their minds blown. That said, it's one part action movie with another part mystery, so the plot never drops too far down to a crawl, despite there being plenty of talking head moments. The spacing of these two elements is pretty well done, allowing for the build up and relief of tension for that old roller coaster effect, all while utilizing the supernatural elements to punch things up with a surprise spook or two as it goes along it's way. There's also plenty of moments where it feels almost as though moments at one end of the movie interact with moments from the other, although that's probably mostly just me inferring them as I have no knowledge towards if it was entirely meant to be that way. It is worth noting that there are at lest a few moments where things can be forced - such as someone taking off a necklace amulet with their coat so that the movie can set up the final set. There are also some things that could perhaps seem almost like a misstep on the bad guys parts, although I feel like they mostly address those without it feeling too dumb.
The other thing that the supernatural elements bring to the table is the effects department. There is plenty of CG in this flick, but thankfully it's pretty good most the time. From hellscapes to angel wings, right on over to bug monsters and gooey demon heads it all holds up pretty nice. Some elements, such as demon skin melting from holy water, look far nicer than others, such as the bug monster - but that's pretty par for the course. There's also some good squibs and props as far as more practical effects - such as that righteous drum-fed cross shotgun. Characters all have their own distinct look, but largely costumes are all meant to fit in with the modern time, so outside of a handful (final boss fight) they don't particularly stand out as being super impressive. Admittedly, the CG effects may not stand out as being photo-realistic (not that any of us would really probably know what a demon creature would look like for sure), but it's passable and I've seen worse effects in modern movies.
If there was to be any element of the flick that I'd consider it's weakest, it'd probably be the acting. It isn't bad, but outside of a few standouts it feels quite monotone. Our female lead in particular has this habit of having everything delivered in the same wavelength, which somewhat dampens her performance when it comes to emoting. Sure, the characters a cop and might be more well composed than the average person, but it still feels as though she lacks emotion because of it. Keanu has some good lines and fine moments, but doesn't really shine at any moments during the run time. Oddly enough, of all the people in here, the taxi-driving comedic sidekick played by LaBouf is probably the best acted. He also probably has the least screen time of the batch.
The characters themselves are fitting for what the movie needs, but there really isn't much as far as multiple levels of character or anything of that sort. As stated, the main has a little bit of a development as he goes through the flick, but that's really largely it. Audio levels are all good, and the scoring does it's job of blending in and helping the movie with setting things up - including the occasional big string to get the jump on people. Overall shot work is pretty clean and easy to follow, and there's a few nifty shots here or there - particularly anytime someones about to travel between normal and hellscape worlds, when things slow down to a stop and we occasionally get some sweeping shots to flow with the slow motion. Some language is present, and despite the amount of deaths that happen in the movie violence as a whole is actually surprisingly limited. Blood, in particular, seems to be largely missing from much of the violence - not that I particularly feel it's necessary or demanded by the movie however.
Constantine holds up pretty well. It might not be the best movie out there, but I'd say it's still an enjoyable one. The acting isn't phenomenal, and perhaps the story a bit generic by modern terms, but the effects and action all keep things going and fun. If your looking for a supernatural and a bit dark movie in the comic genre that doesn't feel like superhero movie, this one feels like it could fit the bill. When evil's about, sometimes all it takes to entertain is a crude dude with a boomstick.