Rich, Chocolate Constantine. More Constantine, Please!

Mar 20th, 2005 | By | Category: Columns

This month we examine Constantine, an antihero comic book movie based on “religion.”As you can see by my use of quotes, this movie will be long and contain a lot of pointless and inaccurate religious references. I shall ignore most of them in this review, as I ignored them in my free screening, because I’m not going to waste a free screening thinking about Corinthians, and neither should you.

Therefore, this is a scene-by-scene according to my notes, which are actually legible, because they kept the lights up in the theatre to discourage piracy, which was very helpful, because it meant that I made a lot of notes, and also that when the dude in front of me stood up to pee and then became frozen with indecision for a good two minutes, I was able to memorize the label on his jeans.

This came in handy, as later I was able to heckle him with “Hey, Levi 501 38M! Yeah, you! Watch your natural wash, buddy! Yeah, you heard me!”


We open with a blurb about the Spear of Destiny, and if that doesn’t spell trouble, I’m not sure what does.

Oh! Wait! Poverty-stricken Mexicans! I was wrong.

A poverty-stricken, dust-crusted Mexican indigent falls through a (plot) hole and removes the Nazi flag-wrapped Spear of Destiny. Because of course the Nazis got it. They were resourceful bastards.


Oh, wait. My bust. He gets up and walks away. Whatever. I’m sure we won’t see him again.

Los Angeles, home of hot tea. A nice Asian lady opens her daughter’s door and WHAM GIRL IN THE CEILING POSSESSED DEMON BEST EVER I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

A taxi pulls up, and Constantine gets out.

Now look, I know he’s supposed to be Constantine, but Keanu’s “Constantine” is nothing like the Sting-inspired Brit, and as much slack as I am willing to cut this movie, I’m not willing to type out his name. Keanu has doomed his character to altering consonants; his name is Konu.

Konu vanquishes the possessed girl by reciting lines into the actress’s ear until the demon can’t take it and commits suicide. Blah blah mirror something mystical something bad news about something. Frankly, the best thing about this scene is Shia LaBeouf, who sits in the car and bitches. I appreciate this aspect of any purported action movie; rarely do we see someone chilling in the car who is not 1) about to die and 2) a black dude.

Konu says that something is wrong “CGI is everywhere!” and gets his friend the priest right on it. Then he goes home to take a bubble bath or something, I’m not sure. Konu does a lot of delegating.


She’s Angela Dodson, killer cop, which I think is nice, because usually killer cops are 1) about to die or 2) a black dude. She seems nicely tormented and Catholic about her killings, and manages to give her character a lot of quiet life. You get the strong impression that if Konu were not in this movie, we could have a rich narrative that follows Angela’s quest to find out what killed her sister.

Oh, and apparently Konu has consumption or something.

Angela’s in the hospital, where she identifies the wax replica standing in for her dead twin. She and Konu meet cute when he doesn’t hold the elevator for her. I like this, because it is realistic. Plus, I am sure that Keanu Reeves is totally an asshole.

Meanwhile, the Mexican indigent guy walks through a field, and cows drop dead at his feet. Okay, and you know what? He steals a car and kills a white guy (proving his evil) and speeds (TRULY EVIL). These inserts happen almost randomly, to cover scenes of characters traveling in the real plot, so I will ignore them after this. Thanks to Phantom of the Opera for teaching me how to ignore crappy inserts. Shout-out, puffy shirts!

So Konu and Angela both end up in some huge church/library/audience chamber/set decorator wet dream, and we meet the Angel Gabriel when the wings come out and WHAM BEST EVER I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

Then Gabriel tells Konu that he’s going to hell because he tried to kill himself. (Goths of the world, listen up.) Also, because he’s really selfish and assholey. (Yeah, I’m looking at you. Watch it.) This is a deeply enjoyable dynamic, because Tilda Swinton makes Keanu Reeves actually put out in terms of his acting, and because it’s nice to hear that Keanu Reeves is in trouble.

Back at the ranch, Angela’s wax double can’t have a Catholic funeral because she committed suicide, which is really nice. Thanks, Bishop Dickhead. Blame the mentally unstable. She is understandably a little testy.

Konu goes to see Djimon Honsu and ask for some advice on how to look like the coolest pimp ever; I was very excited to hear Djimon’s insights, as I have long thought him a pimp daddy. Instead, there’s some talk about a chair, which we may infer is upholstered in red velvet. I’m just saying.

Their heart-to-heart is interrupted by Gavin Rossdale, who’s wandering around in a daze wondering where his band went and who the blonde chick in his bed is. Now, Gavin Rossdale has to be one of the sexiest rock stars in history; this, I believe, is undisputed. Equally undisputed is his utter lack of acting talent. He actually creates a sucking void of anti-charisma in his part as Most Boring Cipher Ever. The movie is in serious danger of turning into a community theatre production until Konu, through sheer force of will, balances the scales but Not Acting even harder than Rossdale. A near miss, you guys. Be grateful.

So Konu goes back to his artfully dilapidated apartment to bemoan becoming a cog in the Catholic afterlife machine, but he’s interrupted before he can even put in his NIN instrumental CD. It’s Angela! If you didn’t see that coming, you have never seen a movie before. She asks for help with her sister, and he basically gives her the finger repeatedly. She frees his captive spider and gets her ass out, which I respect. Except the spider part, which is creepy.

Of course, just as Konu’s congratulating himself over remembering all his lines, demons swarm in, and he has to go spill the beans to Angela. She takes it pretty well, which I respect, and she even points out that people are evil enough on their own (Eileen, I’m looking at you).

The street lights around them go out one by one, leaving only the light from a Virgin Mary in a store window, and the wind is suddenly carrying HUGE SWARMS OF DEMONS IN THE AIR AND HE BLOWS THEM AWAY WITH A HAND TORCH BEST EVER I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

Then Angela vomits.

(A brief tangent on movie vomiting. When I first saw Strange Days, Ralph Fiennes witnessed a rape-murder, after which he promptly bailed out of his car and threw up. This was the entire audience reaction to the brutal and visceral scene, and if Ralph hadn’t taken one for the team then I would have been in serious trouble. Since then I tend to regard movie vomiting as a last-ditch emotional reaction to something unfathomable. Here, as we have already seen, like, six demons, it just makes Angela look like a wimp, and I wish they had left it out.

Fun fact: I saw Strange Days with my grandmother! Good times.)

Konu and Angela go back to her apartment, where they pull a fake-out by making it look like she’s going to cook pasta. Instead, Konu demands a foot bath, which as it happens is a gateway directly to hell. (Andrew, I’m looking at you.) This sequence takes about half a second in movie time and EIGHT MILLION YEARS in audience time. I swear. I have a grandkid now.

Konu is in hell! The depiction of Hell here is the city you live in, only constantly swarming with lava and burning layers off of itself, and where the wind is too loud to hear anything and a million tormented souls exist in a CGI downstairs. Hell has a basement. Not sure if this is irony or not.

Konu sees Isabel, who gives him a shout-out right before she plummets into Hell’s lava pool; it freaks him out that they were twins, which I really liked, because the audience assumes knowledge, and it’s nice that Konu didn’t know that going in.

What’s not so nice is that Konu totally forgot to tell his preacher friend that he was on top of the whole Hell thing, so the guy breaks into a morgue, flips out, runs into a 7-11 and ends up drinking himself to death because of Gavin Rossdale.

Man, if I had a nickel.

And cut to some eggs! Because if there’s one thing that makes me hungry, it’s a guy bleeding to death in a 7-11, drooling and muttering. Pass the ketchup?

Konu gets his eggs and some backstory, where Angela finds out he killed himself and was in hell for two minutes; when he came back, he found himself an unwilling warrior against demons. Apparently none of this is getting him any brownie points with the Almighty, which makes me think he should consider another religion. Judaism is probably all about the righteous warriors? Buddhists are a pretty chill bunch of guys. There’s not a lot of demons in Buddhism.

Angela gets the call that the preacher’s dead, and they pay him a visit, and Konu finds a Very Important Stab Wound that looks like a band logo, neatly circumventing any feelings he had about keeping this guy in the dark until he went nuts and pulled a Courtney Love.

They visit the hospital next, and Angela gets her backstory! Twin Isabel saw things in the ether, which got her repeatedly committed to the pokey. Rachel’s tone here is excellent, because you know exactly why Angela became a cop – they both have a drive to find the source of things, and Angela chose the secular path, also knows as The Path of Less Societal Stigmata and Pokey Visits. I don’t blame her. This hospital room is dingy and gross.

Konu pulls a Few Good Men on Angela out of nowhere:

“What did she do?”

“I don’t know.”

“What did she do?”

“I don’t know!”



Thanks for that, guys. Very informative.

Angela does, however, remember that Isabel and she used to leave messages written on the windows. She blows on the glass and discovers that her sister incorrectly referenced the Bible, which means that her sister is most of the Baptists in America today.

Oops! Wait! It’s the Satanic bible! (Baptists, I’m looking at you.)

Apparently there’s something about Mammon being Satan’s son, and a gateway, and opening Hell, and some other stuff. I was too busy waiting for the grisly death of Konu’s other poor sucker helper.

Oh! Look! Death by bees. Well, that’s taken care of.

Konu feels guilty, which is nice of him. Welcome to the party! Can I get you a drink? Whose awesome balcony is that you’re brooding on?

When he ducks back inside his huge and artfully dingy apartment, Angela’s there with a confession. She used to see things, too! If you didn’t see that coming, then you have never seen a movie before.

(Secret admission: I like the chemistry between Keanu and Rachel. It’s lab-partner chemistry, but it’s very steady and realistic. Nice job, guys.)

They immediately test the chemistry by submerging Angela in a bathtub of water so she can go to Hell and check on her sister. This is, as you might expect, the worst plan ever. Surprise! She found Hell unpleasant. Her exit from Hell is so violent that WHAM IT BLOWS UP KONU’S BATHTUB BEST EVER I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

(Please note that she is wearing a black bra under her white tank top, which is not a very cop thing to do. Dear Wardrobe Department; just have her take off her shirt if you want her in a black bra so badly. A white shirt is both tacky and symbolic of poor planning on her part. Thanks.)

Anyway, they get her a shirt (a WHITE SHIRT OKAY WARDROBE DEPARTMENT WE GET IT), and they drive to the Building of Evil, where Konu pulls the bullshit kiss where he doesn’t quite, and instead he fastens an amulet around her neck. Angela is very skeptical of the amulet, because it looks like a Star Trek dog tag, and when she points this out he tells her to stay in the car. Asshole.

Gavin Rossdale is in the Conference Room of Evil, and gets blasted by Konu. “Fire?! I was born of this!”he calls, and a little part of me died forever, because it’s not a bad line, but delivered by Gavin Rossdale it is so mortifyingly awful that I had to cover my ears the second time I watched it.

Konu agrees, because he whips out some brass knuckles and beats on Gavin for a while. I am happy. Maybe the lead singer of Creed is hanging around in this building, too.

Konu attempts to banish Gavin to Heaven by giving him the least convincing set of last rites ever. Seriously, Christians, if you’re ever in a near-death situation, do not let Keanu Reeves pull this on you. Just risk it. Seriously.

Angela joins him, because of course she didn’t stay in the car, because if you stay in the car you are 1) about to die and 2) a black man.

They banter about the unnecessary Mammon subplot and talk about next week’s homework and hey where’s the amulet and WHAM SHE IS YANKED THROUGH THE WHOLE BUILDING AND OUT INTO THE SKY BEST EVER I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

House of Pimp! And look, Shia’s back for no reason! Maybe he had 8th grade this week.

Konu busts into Djimon’s back room and demands to see The Chair. “It’s not even gold-leafed yet!”Djimon protests, but Konu’s not having it, and Djimon opens the storage room full of Catholic artifacts and shows him the chair. It’s an electric chair! Letdown! NO velvet or anything! Not even a lion’s head! Not even a rhinestone!

He finds out something about the demons or something? I dunno. A lot of CGI. Upshot: they must go fight demons because the script tells them to!

Shia burns down all the holy relics to make sanctified weapons. They have been paying attention to Christian mythology, too, right down to the Enchanted Crosses of Sanctified Water! These guys are hardcore knowledgeable!

Oh, wait. My bust.

Angela ends up in the pool in the pokey, which is some nice symmetry. She also empties her clip into the first dude she sees, which I deeply respect, but she is overwhelmed, because this is the poverty-stricken Mexican indigent and therefore she stands no chance against his overwhelming evil and who thought this social commentary would fly? Seriously, who? This is awful!

Whatever. She’s knocked out. Now she gets to wait like a little bitch for Konu to show up and save her.

And here he is! He sends Shia off to algebra class and moves down a hallway very slowly ad ominously. Shia, meanwhile, totally skips the test and goes to the boiler room and shoves the cross in the water supply. Does that mean we get out of gym?!

Keanu shows up in the outer room of the pool, where a million demons are waiting for him! He turns on the sprinklers, though, and kills all of them. Good idea, actually. I’ll make a note.

Oops! The devil made Angela put out. Bummer. Welcome back to the A plot, though!

Konu is unhappy that the devil does not understand that No Means No, so he tries his best to handle Angela gently, even when she grows pale blue contact lenses and screams at him, so rather than beat her up he tries his “last rites”shtick again, and the Devil gets totally incapacitated laughing and everything’s fine! I’m sure that thing in her stomach is just water weight and not the Devil’s fetus!

Oh, wait, my bust.

Luckily, Shia’s there, and he actually makes a nice go of the Latin. More convincing than Konu, at any rate. Thanks, Shia! He even gets a compliment, and smiles and WHAM HE GETS TOTALLY BEATEN TO DEATH BY THE ANGEL GABRIEL BEST EVER I LOVE THIS MOVIE. Just a note: Gabriel is lookin’ FINE.

She stands on Konu’s chest and they bitch back and forth about the human condition and why releasing the son of the Devil is a really good idea because it will force people to be better. Apparently, angels are not so smart. I blame the script.

Even Tilda Swinton can’t sell this crap. I start hoping they’ll make out, just because it means they’ll have to stop talking, but then Gabriel throws him out of the room, which kind of puts a damper on that plan.

Gabe whips out the Spear to perform an emergency C-section on poor unconscious Angela. The future of health care in our country? You decide.

A half-dead Konu decides to call in the big guns, and slits his own wrists, which creeps me out so much I cover my eyes and have no idea what else happens for a while.

Then I hear another voice and I peek. It’s the Devil! And he’s a white dude from the South! Black Guys Who Stayed In The Car and Got Killed Unite!

He’s very excited about calling Konu home, and Konu seems pretty comfortable with him. Maybe it was just a bad breakup that got him kicked out of Hell? This theory gets a step forward when Konu points out that Junior’s gotten pretty uppity in the pool room and wants to take over, and the Devil’s like, “My boy is SO GROUNDED!”

Maybe not exactly. I was distracted by the wrists and watched through my fingers a little.

He comes into the pool room and is like “WHAT DO YOU KIDS THINK YOU ARE DOING?”and scoops Angela in his arms and out of the way of the knife. I’m excited and proud, and this movie is so weird it has actually made me root for the Devil. Well done, guys.

Gabriel tries to pop a cap in the Devil’s ass, but turns out God’s a little upset with Gabriel, and even as she whispers “Father” WHAM HER WINGS BURN RIGHT OFF AND SHE’S BLOWN BACK INTO THE POOL BEST EVER I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

The Devil comes back to claim Konu and mentions that he owes Konu a favor. Konu wants Isabel to go to heaven, which is genuinely touching, and the Devil complies before he grabs Konu by the wrist to drag him bitch-style across the floor to Hell.

However, Konu’s suddenly too heavy, because God has claimed him, and the heavens open and WHAM KONU GIVES THE DEVIL THE FINGER ON HIS WAY OUT BEST EVER I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

Turns out that was a bad plan, because the Devil grabs him and rips the consumption (remember the consumption?) right out of his lungs and says that time will tell if he goes to Heaven or Hell. This seems like overkill, but then again, this is the Devil.

Konu meets up with the newly spawn-free Angela, and pulls another bullshit kiss as he reaches for the Spear of Destiny instead. I call bullshit, Konu! Seriously! If you have no sexual chemistry, just admit it instead of copping out on a kiss twice in one movie! What is this, The X-Files?

Surprise! A newsbreak interrupts this latest bullshit kiss  – Gabriel’s alive in the pool! And really cheerful; she suggests gleefully that Konu shoot her to death, and praises him for being a stand-up guy when he leaves instead. Now that’s an optimist.

Angela and Konu hang out on the roof of the pokey at night, and I’m finally beginning to question if this film had permits to shoot anywhere else. Apparently Angela has to go hide the Spear, but they each tell the other they will “see you later.”

And if you didn’t know that means “In the sequel,” then you have never seen a movie before.


Genevieve is a prolific writer of speculative fiction living in New York, but you’ll never find her there because millions of people live there and Genevieve likes her privacy. Examples of her fiction can be found in Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, Federations, and numerous other magazines and anthologies. Her first novel is forthcoming in 2011. Also? She has terrible taste in movies.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.