Keanu Reeves is Constantine, a man who in his youth discovered that he was able to see the spiritual warfare occuring all around him. You see, God isn't just watching from the clouds -- angels and demons can be found in all walks of life, using humans as chits in a spiritual war. Able to see demons all around him, even disguised as humans, the young Constantine was driven to suicide. For two minutes, he was in Hell. (Suicide is the highest sin that any Catholic can commit, in case you didn't know). He's revived, but is doomed to return to Hell someday.
Constantine has been 'deporting' demons back to Hell (and chain smoking) ever since, in the hope that he can buy his way into Heaven. An androgynous Archangel, Gabriel, tells Constantine in no uncertain terms that it doesn't matter what he does, he is screwed. Also, he has terminal lung cancer so he'll be boarding the express elevator to you-know-where very soon.
The plot is taken from the graphic novel named, 'Hellblazer' but it's too labrynthine to understand. Suffice to say that 'bad things are happening' and only Constantine (and Rachel Wiesz's character) can save the day! Oh heck, I'll try -- Satan's son is trying to get to Earth so he can rule the Earth. In order to complete the ceremony to allow Satan's son to be born on Earth, Rachel Wiesz has to be ritualistically murdered using the 'Spear of Destiny' -- also known as the Spear of Longinus, the spear that pierced the side of Christ. Whew.If any of that made any sense to you at all, you're scary.
While Constantine is visually interesting it delivers some head-scratching moments. Director Francis Lawrence's depiction of Hell is great; imagine Earth as it is now, but under the searing heat and hurricane winds of a huge blowtorch. Rotting cars and buildings slowly erode under the hot winds, and demons with half-faces crawl through the wreckage seeking new arrivals. Beneath it all is a human mosh pit of demons and suffering humans. It's obvious why Constantine wouldn't want to return to Hell. As bad as it may be already, Constantine's sent so many demons packing that they're ready and waiting to welcome him. Imagine a cop being sent to prison.
The head-scratchers are lines from Constantine, like, "Water is a conduit between the planes. It acts as a lubricant." Ah, I see!.... huh? And then there's the scene where Wiesz's character is dragged away at great velocity by.... we never find out. The plot is about how the Spear of Destiny (the spear that pierced the side of Christ, as he was crucified, killing him) has been found, and how it will usher in the birth of Satan's son, etc. By the film's end you won't care or understand, but you'll still be entertained nonetheless.
Despite the incomprehensible plot, Constantine delivers great visuals, great action, and some comic moments. There's one scene that was so funny, the audience started to clap. I'll reveal it as a spoiler at the end of this review. It was intended to be funny, so relax. Keanu Reeves delivers a credible performance as a gutsy, cynical hero. All in all, I'll give Constantine 3.5 Catholic Rosaries out of a possible 5.
DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU INTEND ON SEEING THIS FILM.
Supremely funny moment: when Constantine, having sacrificed himself by slashing his wrists in order to stop Satan's son from being born (and usurping Satan himself), starts to get dragged away to Hell by Satan. Suddenly, the tiles begin to buckle, and Satan finds that he cannot drag Constantine any further. Some divine force is holding him back! Satan realizes he's been tricked by Constantine, and our hero rises (angelically) and facing away from Satan, begins to float towards Heaven (which looks a lot like Coruscant, but without all the spaceships). Satan screams in outrage! As Constantine floats off towards Heaven, his back to Satan, his face quietly enraptured, both hands give Satan the middle finger. Satan grabs Constantine, pulls him back, and defiantly pulls the cancer out of Constantine's lungs with his bare hands. So Constantine doesn't get into Heaven, but he's free of cancer (yay!). And Satan swears that Constantine will still end up in Hell; he'll screw up again somehow.