top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Screen Room

Constantine (2005)

After reading the news recently that a sequel was finally in development, last week I felt compelled to revisit the film that even Keanu Reeves himself likes so much that he’s been itching to play the character again for seventeen years!

Constantine (2005)

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a supernatural, fantasy/mystery/horror that’s loosely based on the DC/Vertigo comics’ “Hellblazer” comic-book series.

Directed by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Red Sparrow) the movie stars Keanu Reeves (The Matrix), Rachel Weisz (The Mummy), Shia LaBeouf (Transformers), Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator), Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange) and Peter Stormare (Armageddon) among many others.

This is what it’s about according to the internet:

“As a suicide survivor, demon hunter John Constantine (Reeves) has literally been to hell and back -- and he knows that when he dies, he's got a one-way ticket to Satan's realm unless he can earn enough goodwill to climb God's stairway to heaven. While helping policewoman Angela Dodson (Weisz) investigate her identical twin's apparent suicide, Constantine becomes caught up in a supernatural plot involving both demonic and angelic forces.”

Despite Keanu Reeves’ current star power, thanks to the John Wick movies proving such a big hit with both fans and critics alike, his career has had a fair few ups and downs.

To his credit, he’s made a real variety of movies over the years, from big budget Hollywood blockbusters to independent films with hardly any budget at all.

Following the release of the last Matrix movie of the trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions (2003) he made around fifteen films over a nine year period with none of them achieving the same kind of success as some of his earlier efforts.

Constantine is one of those films.

I have to say, I really like this movie!

I’ve seen it a few times now and it’s very different to anything else he’s done (aside from maybe, The Devil’s Advocate and 47 Ronin). I’m amazed it’s been so difficult to get a sequel approved till now!

Not only is it a great concept (man with supernatural/magical gifts who’s condemned to hell tries to rid the earth of demons in an attempt to win his way back into heaven), but it has a real edginess and unique style that sets it apart from most other comic-book movie adaptations. In fact for a long time I wasn’t even aware this was based on a comic.

Before I continue, here’s a little Constantine history and trivia:

The character first appeared in Swamp Thing #37 in June 1985 and eventually got his own comic-book series, John Constantine: Hellblazer in January 1988.

For a while the movie was almost going to star Nicolas Cage in the lead role with the title being “Hellblazer”. However, Keanu Reeves was cast instead and the title was eventually changed to avoid any confusion with the Clive Barker “Hellraiser” films.

Now, moving on…

After looking into the comic-book side of this character before writing this post I was surprised to discover just how different this film is from the original source material.

These days I feel like any film adaptation (of a comic in particular) attempts to be as faithful to it as possible so as to not upset fans and (one would hope) do it justice. This wasn’t always the case though and Constantine is one such example.

To be fair, from what I’ve read about the comic-book version of John Constantine I can’t help but think the movie version of the character is slightly more intriguing.

Interestingly, for the most part the comics were set in London, England, and Constantine himself was from Liverpool. On top of that his physical image was inspired by the British musician, Sting, and in the comics has blond hair, not the dark un-greying locks that Mr. Reeves possesses.

It was a daring move to make such drastic changes but having not read the comics, I think it paid off.

Keanu Reeves, as usual brings that mystery and intrigue and whatever it is that makes him “Keanu Reeves” to the lead role, and in my opinion this is one of his best performances to date.

Rachel Weisz is also very good playing both her character, Angela, and (unsurprisingly) her twin sister, Isabel (although I always struggle to get past her American accents in films). She's particularly good in the last act.

Shia LaBeouf who was only really just starting his film career at this point plays a similar character to the one he played in I, Robot a year earlier and shows even this early on that he was destined for bigger things (make sure you stick around for the post credit scene at the very end).

I think the two most stand-out performances in the movie though are from the brilliant Tilda Swinton who plays a very different Angel Gabriel, and Peter Stormare who gives us arguably one of the best portrayals of Lucifer ever seen in a film. He’s brilliant!

Something I noticed watching Constantine this time around (post John Wick movies) is how similar in some ways the films are to each other.

One of my favourite characters in the movie is Papa Midnight, played by Djimon Hounsou. Midnight is a “former witch-doctor” who runs a nightclub that serves as a neutral meeting ground for both angels and demons. His character and the whole idea of the club is reminiscent of Ian McShane’s character, Winston, and The Continental hotel in the John Wick films. Add to that the fact that Constantine is a loner with a tragic past and a unique set of skills who goes around killing bad guys, and I’d say there are enough similarities for me to confidently make that statement.

Like a lot of films, Constantine wasn’t overly well received by critics upon release. It did ok at the box office but it’s perhaps the mixed-to-negative critical reception that put pay to a sequel being made until now.

Thankfully, time has played a big part in this movie gaining popularity with more and more people discovering it over the years and appreciating it for the underrated gem that it is.

With Top Gun: Maverick (2022) proving that a sequel to a classic movie made years earlier can live up to (and in some cases surpass) it, I just hope that this is a turning point as far as quality is concerned.

Warner Bros. who own the film and TV rights to Constantine recently put out a statement saying that after the success of The Batman (2022), moving forward they plan to prioritise quality in their films.

I really hope they do. A lot of people have wanted this particular sequel to happen for a long time. It would be nice to think it’ll be worth the wait.

This is a great movie and an interesting and unusual concept that's different to any other comic-book movie you might've seen. It has good performances, a tonne of style and excellent visuals (in particular, the hell scenes).

Still not sold? Ok, well then if you like the idea of Keanu Reeves as a chain-smoking, demon killing, ass-kicking exorcist with the ability to see angels and demons and travel between earth and hell while having a foot spa and a stare-out competition with a cat simultaneously (it’s actually not as ridiculous as it sounds) then this is the movie for you!

You can find it streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime (no rental fee).

Seen it? Let me know what you think I’m the comments.

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2 Post
bottom of page