Keanu Reeves really tried, but his Constantine was a casting error

Keanu Reeves really tried, but his Constantine was a casting error

Every Hollywood star’s career needs to go through a moment similar to the one Keanu Reeves went through with Constantine: when, in full imperial stage and still ecstatic after the end of the stage Matrix (1999 – 2003), our man decided to prove to himself and to the whole world that he was capable of taking on any challenge. In his case, it was all about playing John Constantine, the foul-mouthed, cynical, heavy drinker, nicotine addict, and impossibly blond antihero that Alan Moore, Rick Veitch and Steve Bissette created as a secondary for issue 37 (June 1985 ) from The Thing of the Pantano. The character was so successful with Vertigo readers that, just three years later, he had already been promoted to his own series, Hellblazer, where he kept not only his iconic brown trench coat, but also Sting’s features in the film version of Brimstone & Treacle (1982), very hard drama written by Dennis Potter. None of this has anything to do with Reeves’ stage presence in the mid-2000s, as well as the revision of Constantine that he ended up embodying on screen, but he tried.. Boy did he try.

The project was born in the late 1990s, when producer Lauren Shuler Donner bought the rights to Hellblazer with the idea of ​​creating a vehicle for Nicolas Cage, who ended up deciding on that adaptation of Superman that Tim Burton should have directed (the story of this unborn blockbuster even deserved its own documentary). Warner Bros. managed to regain the actor’s attention in late 2001, but then a Tarsem Singh fresh out of The cell (2000) ended up disengaging from production at the last minute. It was then that the studio contacted Francis Lawrence, another director from the world of video clips, and traded Cage for Keanu. Although the script was inspired by a story arc, Dangerous habits, written by Garth Ennis in 1991, the film ended up distancing itself from its starting material both substantially and superficially, with a John Constantine with hair as black as his trench coats and ties walking the streets of Los Angeles with an accent that was definitely not from Liverpool. Comic book fans were dumbfounded.

It’s not just that Constantine ignore the argumentative provocations, the moral subtext, and the Faustian echoes with which Ennis truffled one of his best works, but instead Lawrence’s visual style, heavily reliant on CGI and symmetrical compositions, had nothing to do with Will Simpson’s crude and scruffy drawing. In the end, the film raises the question of how much an adaptation can deviate from the original in order to continue to be considered an adaptation, rather than simply a work inspired by certain keys and beats narratives of a universe that, after all, ends up completely reshaping. If we try to contemplate Constantine Like a 2005 blockbuster with Reeves trying to deliver a somewhat darker version of his charisma, the experience can even be intermittently entertaining. If we choose to read it as the official movie of Hellblazer, we have no choice but to consider it an unmitigated disaster.

Clearly Reeves didn’t find what he was looking for with her, as two of his next roles –A Scanner Darkly (2006) and Owners of the street (2008) – continued to delve into their dark side, only more successfully. By the time they arrived The power of Tai Chi, The legend of the samurai (both from 2013) and, above all, John Wick (2014), The star already seemed to have removed his thorn and to be very clear again what his audience expects of himBut that does not mean that he has completely abandoned John Constantine: in fact, he has stated on several occasions his interest in replaying him in a sequel, despite the fact that both Warner and Bad Robot, the producer of JJ Abrams, seem to be moving forward. together without him in a possible reboot of the character. Actually, there is no need to correct anything: Keanu made a mistake in choosing a role, which makes him more human.. His legend is enriched by this casting error.

* Constantine is available on HBO Spain.

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Keanu Reeves really tried, but his Constantine was a casting error