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Constantine is a 2005 American film loosely based on Vertigo Comics' Hellblazer comic book, with some plot elements being taken from the "Dangerous Habits" story arc (issues #41-46) and others - such as the inclusion of Papa Midnite - from the "Original Sins" trade paperback. It was released on February 8, 2005 in Hong Kong, and on February 18, 2005 in the U.S. and Canada. It is rated R for violence and demonic images by the MPAA. It also contains mild language.
Things are getting
strange stranger for John Constantine, American, atoner and Catholic demon-hunter. Demon activity is on the rise as more and more denizens of Hell are trying to cross over to earth. This would be right up Constantine's alley, but he's a little preoccupied with the fact that he's dying of lung cancer, and going to go to Hell despite all he's done.
Things come to a head when LAPD officer Angela Dodson approaches Constantine with news that her institutionalized, possibly psychic sister has recently offed herself. Constantine investigates and starts to uncover a connection to the demons and a possible plot to turn Earth into a literal Hell.
The film is widely disliked by readers of the comics, but has merits aplenty if taken as a stand-alone work.
A sequel has been in development hell for a while. At this stage a reboot seems more likely.
This movie contains examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: The novelization of the film written by John Shirley does an amazing job of expanding upon the movieverse. It develops the characters more thoroughly and explains the mythology of Constantine's job comprehensively. In addition, it includes all the deleted scenes shown on the DVD in context and fits them into continuity. For those who may be on the fence about the film, the novelization might be the tipping point into enjoying it.
- Addiction Displacement: Constantine chews gum at the end to signal that he's quit smoking.
- Affably Evil: Satan and arguably Gabriel.
- All Up to You
- Almost Kiss: Three times, between Constantine and Angela Dodson.
- Ambiguous Gender: The Archangel Gabriel.
- Anyone Can Die: John’s friends Beeman, Father Hennessy, and Chaz Kramer are all killed.
- Archangel Gabriel: Played by Bifauxnen Tilda Swinton. Resents God's love for an unworthy humanity and plots to release Hell on Earth so that humanity can earn God's love.
- Armor-Piercing Question: "What did she do, Angela?"
- Artistic License Religion
- Bad Guy Bar: The Bar.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Mammon and Gabriel.
- Big No: Alas, poor Balthazar...
- Blessed with Suck: Constantine, Isabel and Angela
- Bottomless Magazines: Angela's miraculous Smith & Wesson 3913.
- Bouncer: You must have Mad Skillz to get into Midnite.
- Broken Angel
- Catapult Nightmare: Angela, after a nightmare of her sister killing herself.
- Catch Phrase: "This is Constantine. John Constantine, asshole."
- "This is Kramer. Chas Kramer, asshole."
- Christianity Is Catholic
- Couldn't Find a Pen: Hennessey carves a message into his own hand with a corkscrew.
- Cultural Translation
- Cursed with Awesome: John's "gift."
- Dead Sidekick
- Demon Slaying: Constantine hunts down demonic halfbreeds and sends them back to hell.
- Deus Ex Machina: Subverted since it's Satan who saves the day
- Death by Adaptation: Chaz.
- Death by Irony: Beeman, who loves bugs, is killed by a swarm of flies, Father Hennessy, who uses alcohol to drown out his psychic powers, is drowned in it, and Chaz, who always wanted to help John fight evil, is killed doing so.
- Did You Just Flip Off Satan: Yes. Yes he did.
- Driven to Suicide: Constantine attempted to kill himself because he saw demonically-possessed people. He managed to succeed just enough for it to count as a suicide by the rules of Heaven, but ultimately survived. He's spent the rest of his life trying to buy his way out of Hell and succeeds by killing himself again. Too bad Satan is a sore loser and saves him from dying.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Balthazar's face after John soaked half of it in holy water. Now what other DC comic has had half his face disfigured by a vial of liquid?
- The Driver: Chas.
- The Dulcinea Effect: "Definitely... mostly not about the girl."
- Enemy Rising Behind: Angela and the man possessed by the Spear of Destiny, while she's in the pool.
- Empty Piles of Clothing: Balthazar after the Big Bad reduces him to dust.
- Evil Is Petty: Satan enjoys dicking around with Constantine when he shows up.
- Fair Cop: Angela played by Rachel Weisz
- Famous Last Words: "You were right, John. It's not like in the books." Chaz Kramer
- Fantastic Catholicism
- Fetus Terrible: What an adorable little cosmic horror...
- Fire and Brimstone Hell
- Flatline Plotline: Used to give Angela a taste of Constantine's knowledge; he drowns her in a bathtub under carefully controlled conditions.
- Flies Equals Evil: Beeman has a fly crawl out from under his eyelid as a sign of demonic attack upon him. He's later found dead with flies covering him and crawling out of his mouth.
- Probably Balthazaar's version of irony.
- Foe Yay: Balthazar and Lucifer towards Constantine. He's not liking all the hellish attention he gets.
- Foreshadowing: Papa Midnite tells Constantine that his soul is the only one Satan himself would come to collect. He's right.
- Friendly Target: Father Hennessy and Beeman.
- The Gods Must Be Lazy: God and Satan have made a deal not to directly interfere in the mortal world. The half-demons constantly break this rule, but they don't get punished - just sent back to hell by Constantine.
- Go Into the Light: Subverted. Satan pulls Constantine out of the light and cures his lung cancer so he'll have a chance to royally screw up again.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: A possessed girl screams "Papatayin natin silang lahat!" ("Let's kill them all!' in Tagalog)
- Heaven Seeker: The title character goes around sending half-demons back to Hell in the hope that this will gain him entry into Heaven after he dies. It's not that John Constantine likes the idea of Heaven that much — he just wants to avoid going to Hell, since he knows firsthand (due to trying to commit suicide in his youth) how horrible it is.
- "You're a cop. Imagine being sentenced to a prison where half the inmates were put there by you."
- To Hell and Back: Constantine is such an expert at doing this, he even teaches Angela to do it once.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted.
- Hollywood Apocrypha: The Hell Bible, which has a different Book of Revelation.
- And an extra five chapters in 1 Corinthians.
- Holy Burns Evil: Holy water scalds the hell out of half-demons, making them easier to kill.
- Immune to Drugs: Semi-Averted. Constantine has developed lung cancer from smoking, but Satan cures him.
- In Name Only: If you pretend that it's not based on Hellblazer, it's actually pretty good. (Technically, we know from Etrigan's rhymes that the Hellblazer hero's name is pronounced Constan-TYNE, so this movie in which Keanu's name is Constan-TEEN qualifies as a distinct individual.)
- One gets the impression that this could have been sold as a very good American story of an occult detective by itself.
- Insane Troll Logic: The Big Bad's logic for destroying mankind in order to save it.
- Instant Oracle, Just Add Water
- Intangible Time Travel
- Jerkass Facade: Constantine.
- Just Hit Him: Holy knuckle dusters FTW.
- Killed Mid-Sentence
Chas: This is Kramer. Chas Kramer, assho...
Balthazar: Word is, you're on your way down. Fresh meat. (sucks his fingertips) Finger-lickin' good!
- Balthazar? What about Lucifer?
- Laughably Evil: Satan, to an extent.
- Light Is Not Good
- Like a Badass Out of Hell: Subverted. Constantine's mortal sin is suicide - and he's been trying hard to make up for it since. (Not so in the original comic.)
- Locked Into Strangeness: A man looks at the possessed girl and his hair turns white.
- Look Both Ways: Unexpectedly, the dude wins. There's a reason for this.
- Magical Abortion: Angela becomes mystically pregnant with the Antichrist - which is called back to hell via a personal appearance by Satan.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Satan is a pimp. Of course, he is played by Peter Stormare.
- Magic Mirror: Mirrors can pull demons out of the humans they've possessed and imprison them.
- Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: On a cosmic scale.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: Constantine resorts to this to prevent the release of Mammon.
- Nay Theist: To be fair, God appears to have started the whole argument.
- Neck Lift: Balthazar to Constantine after he bursts into Balthazar's office. Later on, Gabriel to John.
- Never Suicide: Subverted.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Satan saves the world. And cures Constantine's lung cancer. Satan.
- No Snap in Hell's Kitchen: Completely absent from CW's Crisis on Infinite Earths event.
- One Last Smoke: Played with. It's hard to flick your lighter if you've cut all the tendons in your wrists.
- One-Scene Wonder: Peter Stormare as Satan.
Lucifer: Jooohhhn...Jooohhnn hello, hello John.
- The Ophelia: Angela's twin sister.
- Our Angels Are Different: Gabriel is the winged (androgynous) humanoid variety, but likely not a pure angel, since angels and demons are not allowed on Earth. Constantine himself says to Gabriel earlier in the movie- "[...] You're the one that deserves to go to Hell, half-breed," confirming this.
- Poke in the Third Eye: When Constantine is using The Chair to spy on the man possessed by the Spear of Destiny.
- Portal Pool: Constantine states that any body of water, no matter how small, can be used as a portal to hell.
- Precision F-Strike: Courtesy of one archangel Gabriel
- Protective Charm
- Psychic Children: The title character and Isabel and Angela Dodson all first displayed their psychic abilities as children. Unfortunately, these abilities helped them to see the half-demons infesting the Earth, resulting in two of them being forced to undergo psychiatric treatment and later committing suicide.
- Public Domain Artifact: The Lance of Longinus, AKA the Spear of Destiny.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The demonic halfbreeds.
- Refusing Paradise: Forced, and thereby possible subverted. The dying main character is about to enter heaven, when the devil deliberately heals him to make sure he has another chance at messing up his salvation on earth.
- Retired Badass: Papa Midnite, a magi so powerful that he took on 30 demons by himself. Doesn't need special tools as he has actual magical powers. And powerful enough to create his own embassy of neutrality where hybrids mix and behave under his watch.
- Religious Horror
- Satan: Peter Stormare FTW.
- Schmuck Bait: Constantine tells the men helping him to close their eyes and not look.
- See You in Hell: The "Go to Hell" version, when talking to the demonic halfbreeds.
- Sidekick: Hennessy, Beeman and Chas Kramer.
- Slow Electricity: When Constantine and Angela Dodson are talking on the street, the streetlights begin to turn off (with clunking sounds) - first far away, then approaching them.
- Smoking Is Cool: Subverted, as he gets lung cancer, but double subverted, as he quits at the end of the movie (after Satan gets rid of the cancer).
- The Stinger: Chas dies but is resurrected as an angel. Constantine's not exactly thrilled at this development.
- Summon Bigger Fish: Lucifer actually saves the day because Constantine summoned him.
- Synchronized Swarming
- Tap on the Head: Constantine to the bar's bouncer the second time he goes there.
- Thanatos Gambit: It probably would have worked had he not flipped Satan the bird.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: "Who's the rat in the dress now, huh, bitch?"
- Transformation of the Possessed: The woman possessed by the soldier demon and Angela Dodson when she's possessed by Mammon, Lucifer's son.
- Trenchcoat Brigade: Constantine, technically.
- Not so technically since the actual John Constan-tyne is the trope namer for this one.
- Truce Zone: Papa Midnite's bar
- Utopia Justifies the Means: The Big Bad plans to release Mammon to bring pain and horror to humanity, in order to purify it and make it worthy of God's love.
Gabriel: So...I'll bring you pain. I'll bring you horror. So that you may rise above it. So that those of you who survive this reign of hell on Earth will be worthy of God's love.
- Winged Humanoid: Angels and half-demons.
- What Could Have Been: A lot of fans of the film ( and comic) consider the editing out of Ellie played by Michelle Monaghan to be of a loss to the film.
- Also the deletion of many scenes from the original script which dealt with Chas' character. Even if you aren't fond of Shia LaBeouf, the original script gave his character something to actually do, whereas in the final film he disappears for a good two-thirds during the middle, which begs the question why his character wasn't also cut.
- The Worm That Walks: The "true demon" that Constantine encounters (thereby letting him know that some MAJOR shit is going down) manifests as a swarm of insects of all shapes and sizes. It gets killed by a car.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Big Bad Gabriel to his ally Balthazar.