Friday, 23 June 2017

Constantine (3½ Stars)

Today is the first time that I've watched "Constantine". It's one of those films that I deliberately avoided because it starred Keanu Reeves. I've never liked him because of his inability to express emotions. On rare occasions his coldness fits a role, such as the Matrix trilogy and "John Wick", but that's an exception.

The story is based on the DC character John Constantine who appears in the comic "Hellblazer". The film's theology confused me. Maybe I would have understood it better if I'd read the comic first. I know Marvel comics well, but my knowledge of DC comics is patchy.

Constantine is a man born with the gift -- or is it a curse? -- to see demons that are invisible or disguised to everyone else. He's been destined to go to Hell because of a suicide attempt when he was young, a mortal sin in the eyes of the Roman Catholic church. If I understand the film correctly, he actually died, but God brought him back to life because He intended Constantine to work for him. He works as an exorcist in the service of the Catholic church, God's church on Earth. That's ironic: a man destined to go to Hell is working for God.

God and the Devil are portrayed as two equal opponents in a big game. Which of them can win the most souls? God isn't portrayed as being any better than the Devil. They're just different, both of them caring more about winning the Game than they do about the humans on Earth.

There's even neutral ground, a club where the angels and demons are allowed to spend time together drinking and dancing without hurting one another. That's much like the Continental Hotel in "John Wick".

The best thing about the film is Tilda Swinton as Gabriel. She's fascinating in her personality and her misguided morality. Gabriel's role in the story highlights the ridiculous nature of the Game. I assumed that she was intended to be the Biblical angel Gabriel, but I've read reviews in which other people see her as being a half-angel, an offspring of an angel and a human.

It's a film that I might watch again, if only to try to understand it better. One of my fellow film bloggers, the author of the excellent blog Score The Film, tells the reader for every film whether he will watch it again. I don't do that, because in my case it wouldn't say much about the quality of the film. Usually I would only watch a film again if I consider it very good, but it's not necessarily the case.

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