When I first saw the preview for Constantine, with the hot Mummy chick getting pulled through a building and Keanu chasing after her, I really thought they were making another Matrix movie for some reason. This guess is not as far off the mark as you might think. It made about as much sense as Matrix Revolutions, but I feel better about it because of differing expectations.
Keanu’s acting worked pretty well for me in the John Constantine character, bearing in mind that I come to the movie untainted by the comic. Basically, his acting in any role (leaving aside the Theodore Logan aberration) works well, as long as the character is a cipher who never gets angry. He can emote detachment quite well, but detached shouting is oxymoronic. You may claim that ‘detached’ is not an acting skill, but there are a lot of characters in Hollywood with that as the defining characteristic, and actors have been filling those roles for all the years they’ve been written, some of them quite well. See also Charles Bronson.
Except for the part where lots of things were stated but not really backed up (Why is Constantine of so much interest to hell? What’s so special about this particular time that the neutrality thing is being breached?), the story was sufficiently comic-y to make me happy on that count. Also, Keanu has that look. Really tall, really thin, he just looks like a comic character. I’m sure a big part of that was the cinematography and wardrobe choices, but it was well-done enough that I want to emphasize it. For your comic movie to work, at least someone should look like a comic character.
Anyway: story, schmory. It had a good look, the Hell sets were really cool, and lots of demon-fighting. This is plenty to keep me happy with a February movie. Also, in a bow to gratuity, hot Mummy chick stayed soaked for the final half of the movie. That’s just good directing.