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Film / Constantine (2005)
aka: Constantine

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Angela: I don't believe in the devil.
John: You should. He believes in you.

Constantine is a 2005 American Occult Detective film which is loosely based on Vertigo Comics' Hellblazer comic. It borrows elements from "Dangerous Habits" (John's cancer diagnosis in issues #41-46) and the "Original Sins" trade paperback (the inclusion of Papa Midnite). It premiered in Paris on February 7, 2005, and was released on February 18, 2005 in the U.S. and Canada. It's rated "R" for violence and demonic images by the MPAA, but the language is pretty tame.

Things are getting strange for John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), a freelance demon hunter with the innate ability to spot demons in disguise. He attempted suicide to escape the visions, which condemned him to eternity in Hell, but was revived—irritating Lucifer (Peter Stormare), who grew to despise John for killing his Hellspawn.

Demon activity is on the rise, with more and more trying to cross over via human hosts. This is ordinarily right up John's alley, but he's preoccupied with the fact that he's dying of cancer. He appeals to the Archangel Gabriel (Tilda Swinton) for "an extension", but is flatly denied. Instead, he is enlisted by Det. Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) to investigate the death of her sister, another psychic. It turns out that Lucifer's son is trying to usurp him. Mammon requires the body of a powerful psychic to cross over, but John suspects that someone on Earth is working on Mammon's behalf...

Not to be confused with the Constantine television adaptation of the comic of the same name, which is more faithful to the source material.

A sequel is in development with Reeves and original director Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay) set to return and J. J. Abrams joining as producer.

Constantine contains examples of:

  • Actionized Adaptation: It's difficult to imagine the comics' Constantine dispatching demons with a cross-shaped shotgun.
  • Actor Allusion: This is the third film where Keanu Reeves kills himself to save the world. He had first done so in The Devil's Advocate and then again in The Matrix Revolutions. In both this and the former, it's quickly undone with a Reset Button.
  • Adaptational Badass: While certainly not a wimp by any standards, the comic book version of Constantine is more of a Guile Hero and relies on his wits and quick thinking rather than combat skills. This movie's version is a straightforward Action Hero, especially in the climax.
  • 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.
  • Adaptation Title Change: Constantine is based on the Vertigo comic Hellblazer.
  • Addiction Displacement: Constantine chews gum at the end to signal that he's quit smoking.
  • Affably Evil: Satan and arguably Gabriel.
  • All There in the Manual: The novelization not only reveals that the full name of Lucifer in the film is "Lucifer Rofocale", but that he is also The First of the Fallen, distinguishing him from the more notable Lucifer Morningstar.
  • All Up to You: Keanu Reeves' sidekick Chas briefly takes a surprisingly heroic action, only to then be killed while he is monologing.
  • Almost Kiss: Three times, between Constantine and Angela Dodson.
  • Ambiguous Gender: The Archangel Gabriel thought he's referred to with male pronouns, despite being played by actress Tilda Swinton.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The film leaves it unclear as to whether Chas has always been an angel, or if he became one after dying.
  • Angelic Transformation: In the climax, Gabriel is de-winged as punishment for plotting to unleash Mammon upon the world, leaving a pair of bloody stumps. Constantine introduces them to pain with a punch to the mouth.
  • Anti-Hero: Constantine is rude, unhelpful to most people, asks his friends to put themselves in dangerous situations (and gets three of them killed because of this) and only performs exorcisms and sends half breed demons back to Hell because he wants to buy his way into Heaven.
  • The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People: This is Gabriel's motivation for aiding Mammon. By creating a literal Hell on Earth, he believes this will force those humans that survive and endure to become better people and thus be "worthy" of God's love. And yes, Constantine flat out says Gabriel is insane for believing this.
  • 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 – Gun Safety: When attacked by the Scavengers of the Damned, Angela pulls out her pistol and points it behind her, ending at Constantine's crotch. It may not just have been Guns Are Worthless that made him say "That's really not going to help".
  • Artistic License – Physics: Blink and you miss it - there's a whistle of steam from a kettle. An open kettle with no lid. The lid must be in place to build up pressure and force the steam through the whistle.
  • As You Know: Played with. Constantine begins to explain to Angela that Jesus died from a soldier's spear:
    Angela: The Spear of Destiny. I'm a Catholic, John. I know the Crucifixion story.
  • Bad Guy Bar: Papa Midnite's bar. According to Chas Kramer it's a "haven for those who rise and fall" - i.e. half-breed demons and angels. Several of the half-breed demons are seen with a struggling victim kidnapped for some nefarious purpose.
  • Batman Gambit: Being the one soul that Lucifer would come in person to collect himself, John commits suicide, summoning the devil and allowing him to tell Lucifer of what's going on, bringing a quick resolution to the crisis.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Isabel looks very good for someone who jumped off a 20-foot building and crashed through a glass roof into a swimming pool. Aside from being dead, of course.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Mammon and Gabriel.
  • Big "NO!": Alas, poor Balthazar...
  • Bilingual Bonus: A possessed girl screams "Papatayin natin silang lahat!" ("Let's kill them all!' in Tagalog)
  • Blessed with Suck: Constantine, Father Hennessy, Isabel, and Angela each have supernatural gifts which make them not quite normal in the eyes of everyday people. Seeing a nice old lady get a Nightmare Face or sensing the emotions of an event from touching the newspaper can lead to this result. John even warns Angela that once her power is activated, she won't just see them, they will know she is seeing their true face.
  • Blow You Away: After telling a helpless Constantine his plan, Gabriel blows, sending him crashing through a door. Also an example of Super-Breath.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Angela's miraculous Smith & Wesson 3913. She fires it 30 times without reloading, even though it only holds 13 rounds.
  • Bouncer: You must have Mad Skillz to get into Midnite.
  • Broken Angel: Gabriel's final punishment for the actions in the movie was to have Satan strip his wings and leave him mortal.
  • Brown Note Being: One of Constantine's helpers has his hair instantly turns white, after glimpsing a demon being exorcised from a little girl.
  • The Cameo:
    • Bounty hunter Domino Harvey appears as an angel at Papa Midnight's bar.
    • Michelle Monaghan appears in a hospital, screaming "Holy water!"
  • Candlelit Ritual: Discussed for laughs when John is preparing the ritual that will send his soul to Hell. Angela asks him "If this is some kind of spell or something, don't you need candles and a pentagram for it to work?" John replies "Why, do you have any?"
  • Cast from Calories: After Constantine uses his psychic powers to visit Hell for some info, he tells Rachel that he needs food, thus leading to an exposition scene in a diner.
  • Cats Are Magic: They are linked to Hell. John uses Angela's cat to enter Hell because, as he puts it, "they're half-in half-out anyway".
  • Catapult Nightmare: Angela, after a nightmare of her sister killing herself.
  • Ceiling Cling: The demon who possesses the girl in the opening reveals itself this way.
  • Ceiling Smash: Near the end of the movie, Chas is thrown into the ceiling by Gabriel and mortally wounded. He dies a few moments later.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: The items Constantine receives from Beeman (dragonbreath, holy water ampoules, Amityville screech beetle).
  • Chekhov's Gun: Gabriel mentions to Constantine early on that only things such as self-sacrifice will earn him redemption. And Lucifer finds out that this does indeed work, when Constantine becomes too heavy to drag down to hell.
  • Christianity is Catholic: Catholicism is the only version shown. The novelization explains that Constantine focuses on these relics because his natural understanding of them based on his background of a Christian culture means that they are more powerful than alternatives might be.
  • Claimed by the Supernatural: When Constantine meets Isabel Dodson's soul in Hell, she has a mark on her wrist that looks like a cross inside a circle. When Father Hennessy touches her dead body, the mark appears on her wrist. Constantine later discovers that the mark is the symbol of the Big Bad Mammon and that Mammon is trying to possess her in order to carry out his evil plan.
  • Condensation Clue: Constantine is sure that Isabel Dodson didn't commit suicide without leaving a message for her sister Angela. He uses a repeated Armor-Piercing Question on a reluctant Angela to force her to admit that she and Isabel used this technique as children. Angela then breathes on the window in Isabel's room, revealing her final message to her sister.
  • Conversation Cut: Constantine and Angela Dodson are standing in a room in a psychiatric institution, talking about Angela's sister Isabel. Constantine asks Angela how long she had Isobel committed to the institution. The scene suddenly changes to Isobel's room in the institution and Angela says "Two weeks". In other words, Constantine asked her the question, they walked up to Isabel's room, then Angela answered the question.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Constantine interrogates Balthazar and gets him to talk by reading him his last rites, threatening him with the punishment of being forgiven for his sins and being sent to Heaven instead of Hell when he dies. Balthazar protests that John doesn't have the power to do this, he's not a priest, but John keeps going and it finally scares him enough to spill the beans. Afterward John informs him that you have to ask for absolution for it to count, and he was probably right on the priest point anyway.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Hennessy carves a message into his own hand with a corkscrew.
  • Cruel Mercy: Lucifer burning off Gabriel's wings leaves him a mortal human. John happily decides to let him be after introducing him to pain.
  • Cultural Translation: The film changes the nationality and location of the UK-set (American-owned) comic Hellblazer to Los Angeles. Since the release of the movie, the comic book character of Constantine has stated that there's another guy with his name and a similar job in the US.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: When the Big Bad is revealed to be Gabriel, Constantine is effortlessly beaten. When Satan turns up to save the day(!) Gabriel tries to "smite [Satan] in His honour!", only to fail because "Somebody doesn't have [Gabriel's] back any more", and then gets his wings burned off and gets blasted across the room.
  • Death by Irony: Beeman, a guy who collected insects, was killed by them coming out of his body and Hennessy, who drank to dull his psychic powers, died from drinking himself to death in less than a minute.
  • Debt Detester: Lucifer seems to be this. He dislikes it so much, he didn't even think that John asking for the life of another to be saved could be a genuine Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Demon of Human Origin: The novelization says that the half-breeds are dead humans that were so good or bad in life that they were allowed to return to Earth as part-angel or part-demon.
  • Demon Slaying: Constantine hunts down demonic halfbreeds and sends them back to Hell.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Constantine literally flips off Satan himself.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Lucifer did not expect to see John by him cutting his wrists again. He quickly realizes something is off with the situation. Nor did he foresee Constantine getting into Heaven for the act of self-sacrifice. Though to be fair, even Constantine didn't see that one coming.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • The film's plot starts with the suicide of Angela's sister, Isabel, whose soul is claimed by Hell and whose body will be used as a medium for Mammon.
    • When he was a teenager, 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 but this time as a Heroic Sacrifice. However, Satan is a sore loser and saves him from dying, banking on the likelihood that John will manage to damn himself again.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Balthazar's face after John soaked half of it in holy water. Now what other DC comic character has had half his face disfigured by a vial of liquid?
  • Dying Vocal Change: Balthazar's voice ends up reduced to an echoing, ethereal-sounding whisper after getting his face shot off by Constantine.
  • The Driver: Chas.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: "Definitely...mostly not about the girl."
  • Dull Surprise: Sometimes, Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz seem to be competing.
  • Enemy Rising Behind
    • The man possessed by The Spear of Destiny rises behind Angela while she's in the pool.
    • After Angela is possessed, she rises behind Constantine.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • John is desperate for help in the end and calls on Lucifer to come by committing suicide, knowing the Fallen One will come to claim him personally. John takes this moment to inform him of the villain's plan, which Satan's pride cannot let pass as it isn't his plan.
    • A few minutes later, God and Satan team up to dispose of Gabriel. When Gabriel attempts to smite Lucifer in God's Name, the angel finds his punch halted. Lucifer recognizes this as God withdrawing the Grace of God within Gabriel and uses his powers to force Gabriel to go through transubstantiation and be mortal.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • Gabriel cannot fathom the possibility Constantine would die to summon Satan to save the day nor that their Father would revoke his ability to smite Satan in His Name despite just trying to bring about the end of the world.
    • Played with with Satan. He doesn't comprehend in the moment that when John asks for another soul to be freed as a reward, it would count as a Heroic Sacrifice. However, he is quick to realize the implications when John is prevented from being taken by His power and the gates of Heaven begin to draw John in.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Satan clearly enjoys dicking around with Constantine and Gabriel both when he shows up. He's played by Peter Stormare, what did you expect?
  • Exploited Immunity: Constantine flushes out some demons that have infested a hospital by having his apprentice perform a holy water ritual on the hospital's fire safety system, then holding a cigarette lighter below a smoke detector, triggering the sprinklers to rain holy water. The holy water burns the demons while leaving the humans inside unharmed.
  • Fair Cop: Angela played by Rachel Weisz.
  • Fantastic Catholicism: The title character is a Catholic demon-hunter who uses guns and magic to send demons back to Hell in a world where God and the Devil are in a bet over who can influence mankind the most. Roger Ebert on the movie:
    Roger Ebert: Why do movies about Satan always have Catholics? You never see Methodists or Episcopalians putting down demons.
  • Fantasy Keepsake: After his first visit to Hell to find Isabel, Constantine brings back her hospital wrist tag to prove she was there.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Half-breed demons don't "die" but are just sent to Hell. So when John plans on granting a demon absolution and thus entry into Heaven, it is considered this (from the demon's point-of-view, anyway).
  • Faux Action Girl: At the start of the movie, Angela is introduced as a tough-as-nails cop but her role in events from then on mostly involves being protected or rescued by Constantine.
  • Fetus Terrible: What an adorable little cosmic horror...
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: When John journeys there to see if Isabel is there or not, much of Hell was burning and devoid of any water.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: Used as a plot point. Water is said to be a "universal conduit" that can facilitate travel between Hell and its surrounding realms. In order to reach Hell, which is a red-hued realm of fire and brimstone, a person has to suspend part of their body in water while on Earth.
  • First Injury Reaction: A punch in the jaw to the newly-human Gabriel after the climax leaves them doubled over in anguish. Constantine quips: "That's called pain. Get used to it."
  • Flatline Plotline: Used to give Angela a taste of Constantine's knowledge. He nearly 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. This may have been Balthazaar's version of irony.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Heaven is Los Angeles with lots of clouds and God's rays.
  • Flipping the Bird: Twice by Constantine. One being at the beginning after exorcise a demon out of a girl and another to Satan after he finally earns his way out of Hell
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Papa Midnite tells Constantine that his soul is the only one Satan himself would come to collect. He's right.
    • Early on when talking to Gabriel, Constantine says so them that they should be the one that goes to hell. And sure enough, Gabriel is cast out of God's good grace, made a human and the whole 'making pacts with demons to overrun the Earth' thing is very likely to condemn them to hell.
  • Friendly Target: Father Hennessy and Beeman.
  • Funny Background Event: When Chaz suggests using one of the Crosses of Isteria to turn the water in the hospital pipes into holy water, Papa Midnite is smiling in a very impressed way.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Unlike the other antagonists Balthazar, Lucifer and Gabriel, Mammon never displays personality and never talks.
  • 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.
  • Godzilla Threshold: By the end, the stakes are so high that Constantine tries to summon Heaven with the tattoos on his forearms. Gabriel stops him mid-summon, so he goes for the next best thing: Satan.
  • God and Satan Are Both Jerks: The world in truth is a battleground for angels and demons for dominance. Humankind's casualties and/or souls lost to Hell are merely collateral damage. Both God and Lucifer allow it because they've made a deal together, instead of the Almighty curb-stomping the rebellious archangel. Lucifer may not have to free rein of the planet to damn as many as he pleases, but he’s still permitted to visit and send his half-breeds to try. God himself being little kinder, damning souls who not only end their lives but those who cannot handle the truth of the world they inhabit. It comes off as Grey-and-Black Morality, as God’s afterlife is at least pleasant, and he cares for humanity to some degree. He also accepts John into Heaven at the end, and according to the novelization, took control of John’s hand to flip off Lucifer so that he’d save John.
  • God Is Displeased: Gabriel believed that in order for humanity to be worthy of God's love, it had to suffer first. So they conspired with Mammon to unleash Hell on Earth. They try to destroy Satan when he intervenes, only for Satan to stop the blow from landing, revealing that Gabriel no longer has God's favor.
  • God Is Good: The movie seems to think so, particularly at the end. Tellingly, the Big Bad is the Archangel Gabriel, breaking God’s rules because they think He's too benevolent to humans, whom they consider unworthy of His love.
  • 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
    • Papa Midnite subverts the cigarillo trope by being a good/neutral witch doctor turned bartender.
    • Constantine smokes excessively, only to find out during the movie that he has lung cancer. After Constantine willingly sacrifices himself to save the world (allowing him to enter Heaven), Satan ends up curing his cancer to keep him alive so he can claim him later. At the end of the movie, he's seen popping gum in his mouth.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Angela's normal pistol is the straight example. Constantine subverts it by assembling his own gun out of a variety of holy items, allowing him to quickly blast his way through a room full of half-demons.
  • 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."
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted. John dies by suicide, drawing Satan to Earth, gets him to save the world, and only wants Isabel's soul freed from Hell. By this act of self-sacrifice, his previous suicide is wiped away and John, still dead, is on his way to Heaven. That is until Satan heals John of his cut wrists and cancer.
  • He's Dead, Jim: Chaz Kramer is slammed up against the ceiling and down to the floor a few times, leaving him severely injured. He talks with John Constantine for a few seconds, then stops and lies with his eyes open. John turns away and leaves him for dead without even checking his pulse.
  • Hijacked by Jesus: The movie removes all elements of non-Christian mythology from the setting. The novelisation slightly justifies this by explaining that Constantine's weapons focus on Christian holy relics as he comes from a Christian culture, giving him a greater innate understanding of their power that increases their effectiveness.
  • 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, destroying their human shell and making them easier to kill.
  • Homage: Archangel Gabriel resembles a famous painting of Archangel Michael. As seen here.
  • Humans Are Special: Invoked by God, no less, which causes Gabriel to become jealous due to his perception of them not being good enough.
  • I Have Many Names: The devil in this film is called both "Lucifer" and "Satan". John calls him "Lou" just to mess with him. Gabriel has a few more choice names for him, when they meet.
    Gabriel: Son of Perdition. Little Horn. [Satan giggles] Most Unclean.
    Satan: I do miss the old names.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Both twins are played by Rachel Weisz. Isabel has waist length hair but otherwise they're identical.
  • Idiot Ball: Balthazar doesn't realize that you can't be forgiven of your sins unwillingly. Then again, he's implied to have been born in Hell and they probably don't teach theology down there.
  • Immune to Bullets: When Angela Dodson is confronted by the Mexican man possessed by the Spear of Destiny, she shoots him repeatedly in the chest. The bullets go right through him but don't affect him at all.
  • Immune to Drugs: Semi-averted. Constantine has developed lung cancer from smoking, but Satan cures him.
  • In Name Only
    • If you imagine 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.
  • In Prison with the Rogues: Discussed. Constantine's soul has been destined for Hell ever since an attempted suicide in his childhood, and he's trying to earn his way into Heaven by banishing demons that don't belong in the human world. However, he's very aware that if his plan doesn't work he'll be even more screwed than he would have been otherwise, since, as he tells a police officer he befriends: "What would you do if you were sentenced to a prison where half the inmates were put there by you?"
  • Invisibility: How Gabriel got close to kill Chas.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The Big Bad's logic for destroying mankind in order to save it is that the apocalypse will force them to be better people.
  • Invisible Writing: Angela and her sister Isabel left hidden messages on windows and mirrors when they were kids, visible only when fogged by their breath. Isabel left her sister one last message before she was Driven to Suicide.
  • Invisible to Normals: Full angels and demons are only visible to Psychics and... whatever Constantine was supposed to be as a kid.
  • Just Hit Him: When John confronts the demon Balthazar, he's held up against the wall by his neck and slowly choked. Balthazar takes the opportunity to indulge in some Evil Gloating, giving John plenty of time to reach into his jacket pocket and pull out his holy-knuckle-dusters.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Subverted. Chas is mortally wounded while saying the following, but he survives long enough to give John meaningful last words.
    Chas: This is Kramer. Chas Kramer, assho...
  • Kill the Lights: When the horde of flying demons is approaching the title character and Angela Dodson, all nearby lights (including the street lights) go out, leaving the main characters in darkness.
  • Knight Templar: Gabriel.
  • Large Ham: Balthazar and Lucifer.
    Balthazar: Word is, you're on your way down. Fresh meat. (sucks his fingertips) Finger-lickin' good!
  • Light Is Not Good: Archangel Gabriel is a traitor to Heaven, and planning on unleashing Hell on Earth.
  • 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.
  • Mammon: Mammon is the demonic son of Satan, plotting to take over the world against the plans of both Heaven and Hell.
  • 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.
  • Meta Casting: Keanu Reeves was a very... odd choice to play John Constantine, but as it says elsewhere, the movie is good if you don't mind its In Name Only connection to the comic book. So as long as the protagonist doesn't have to be a fast-talking scouse Anti-Hero... who's better for the role than The Devil's Advocate?
  • Meaningful Name: Hennessy and Beeman - both names not only indicate a significant personality characteristic but foreshadow the way they die.
  • Medicate the Medium: Constantine and Isabel both underwent Bedlam House type treatments for their hallucinations.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Suicide of a woman → a plot to bring the Devil's son to Earth and bring about Armageddon.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: A variation. When Angela is possessed by Mammon in the climax, she appears as a thrashing, animalistic beast in the reflection on the tiled hospital floor.
  • Mook Chivalry: When the title character fights the half-breed demons in the hospital room, they come at him one at a time and allow him to kill each one with his shotgun instead of rushing him all at once and overwhelming him.
  • Motive Rant: Gabriel gives one about how mankind is unworthy of God's love and how he want to bring the Apocalypse to challenge their condition.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Constantine resorts to this to prevent the release of Mammon.
  • Mythology Gag: At one point, Constantine traps a spider under a glass with cigaret smoke. He does the same thing to a cockcroach in issue #9 of Hellblazer.
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond:
    • "This is Constantine. John Constantine, asshole."
    • "This is Kramer. Chas Kramer, asshole."
  • 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 sets a damned (but innocent) soul free. And cures Constantine's lung cancer. Satan. He has his reasons.
  • "No Peeking!" Request: While Constantine is preparing to drag the demon out of the possessed girl he tells the men helping him "Close your eyes. And whatever happens, don't look." One of them does. He collapses and his hair turns white.
  • No-Sell
    • Lucifer being, well, Lucifer, pulls this off twice after he shows up to claim John's soul. John's being 'between worlds' has temporarily brought time almost to a standstill; Gabriel, in the other room, is moving in super-slow motion, but Lucifer meanders in at his normal pace and pulls Angela/Mammon out of the way, at which point time instantly returns back to normal. And in the reflected water that shows Mammon, he's struggling with all his might to escape his father's grasp. Lucifer doesn't so much as move a muscle. When Gabriel attempts to smite him, he freezes the angel's hand with nothing but a malicious grin. This however is at least in part because "Somebody doesn't have [Gabriel's] back any more"
    • Balthazar laughs off a blast of Dragon's Breath, pointing out he was born from fire. A vial of holy water melts half of his human face-off, exposing the demon underneath, but doesn't seem particularly painful either. Holy knuckle dusters however work juuuust fine.
  • One Last Smoke: Played with. It's hard to flick your lighter if you've cut all the tendons in your wrists. Fortunately, Satan is more than happy to help out. He's got stock, you see.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: John notes early in the movie that God and Lucifer have made a bet that involves the souls of all humanity. When Lucifer's son is close to being released and unleash hell on earth, Lucifer stops his son and the son's allies because this isn't Lucifer's plan. He will be the one to damn the world not his son.
  • The Ophelia: Angela's twin sister. She even commits suicide in a swimming pool.
  • Otherworldly and Sexually Ambiguous: Tilda Swinton played the Archangel Gabriel.
  • 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.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: Subverted. When Constantine slits his wrists (and apparently cuts too deep) there doesn't appear to be a huge pool of blood on the floor; certainly not enough to be fatal.
  • Pedestrian Crushes Car: At the beginning, when the Mexican man finds The Spear of Destiny, he walks onto a road and a car runs into him. The car is totaled, the man is unscathed.
  • 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.
  • Pride: What saves the world. Namely the pride Satan has is so great even when his son and his allies are inches away from unleashing his son onto Earth and making it a hellhole, Satan cannot abide this as the world is his to damn and destroy. He effortlessly sends his son back to Hell and defeats Gabriel.
  • Protagonist Title: Constantine.
  • Protective Charm: John's priest friend has one but he foolishly didn't keep it on when getting deep in an investigation. Later, when it is given to Angela, she inadvertently removed it.
  • 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. Angela had to lie about hers to avoid the same fate and ended up losing her ability.
  • Psychometry: Father Hennessy can run his hands over printed newspaper stories and psychically detect which ones are significant. Constantine asks him to do this to get information he needs. Later on Hennessy tries to read the body of Angela Dodson's dead sister Isabel.
  • Public Domain Artifact: The Lance of Longinus, AKA the Spear of Destiny.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles
    • During the scene at the beginning of the movie, a Mexican man speaks to another man in Spanish with no translation for the viewers.
    • While the little girl is possessed she screams "Papatayin natin silang lahat!" ("Let's kill them all!' in Tagalog). The audience is not told what this means.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The demonic halfbreeds while Angel's are gold.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Slightly subverted; by giving up his soul to save the world and freeing an innocent soul from Hell, Constantine is redeemed of his past sins and allowed to go to Heaven. His life is restored nevertheless, but only because Satan cures his lung cancer so that Constantine will have another chance to 'prove' that he belongs in Hell.
  • Reduced to Dust: After Constantine blasts Balthazar with Dragonsbreath and reduced him to pieces, the Big Bad reduces him to dust and blows him away, resulting in an Empty Piles of Clothing.
  • 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.
  • Request for Privacy: When Detective Angela Dodson arrives at the hospital to see her sister's body, her detective friend says to the other police personnel "Give us the room, please." and they all leave so he can talk with Angela privately.
  • Ret-Canon: A Hellblazer story acknowledges the existence of Keanu's Constantine in an Alternate Universe.
  • Retired Badass: Papa Midnite, a mage 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: The film is the In Name Only movie adaptation of Hellblazer. The main villain is Mammon, the son of the Devil, and Catholicism is shown to be almost entirely correct.
  • Rerouted from Heaven: Inverted and then played straight. As John attempted suicide in his youth, he is bound for Hell no matter what he did because many of his good deeds are done to try and save himself from the consequence of his attempted suicide not because it is the right thing to do. But when he sacrifices his life and soul to stop the Big Bad, Satan offers him a reward. Instead of healing his mortal wounds, John requests the release of one soul in Hell. Satan obliges, not immediately recognizing the selfless virtue in his action. This action redeems John in the eyes of the Lord and Satan quickly finds John is being rerouted from Hell to Heaven. Not having this, Satan spitefully resurrects John, painfully curing his lung cancer and healing his injuries in the process, in the hopes that he'll screw up and get himself damned again.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Isabel's room at the hospital. While it seems clean cut, the large windows are covered in various scrawlings that are visible with a bit of fog/condensation.
  • Satan: Peter Stormare FTW.
  • "Save the World" Climax: John Constantine is hired to investigate a suicide. In the end, he tries to stop a conspiracy to bring the son of the Devil on Earth.
  • Schmuck Bait: Constantine tells the men helping him to close their eyes and not look. One doesn't.
  • See You in Hell: The "Go to Hell" version, when talking to the demonic halfbreeds.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: Whenever a Half-Breed's physical body is destroyed, they leave their empty clothes behind, as is the case with Balthazar after the Big Bad is through with him.
  • Shirtless Scene: John has one before he undergoes a routine lung checkup. And again in the end, when Lucifer cures him of cancer, because he does it by literally ripping the tumors out through John's bare torso.
  • Shout-Out
    • When Angela Dodson wakes up in her apartment, her black cat meows and walks across her bed - a reference to the scene in The Matrix where Neo (also played by Keanu Reeves) sees the black cat meow and walk by twice.
    • After some demons are destroyed, Angela starts coughing due to the smell of sulfur/sulphur. Constantine says "Happens to everyone the first time", a reference to the "Everyone falls the first time" bit in The Matrix.
    • While Balthazar is looking at himself in a mirror, his image starts to distort and bubbles form on the glass just before the mirror explodes. This is a combination of two scenes in The Matrix film series: the one in The Matrix where Neo is looking into a mirror and it distorts, and the one in The Matrix Reloaded where bubbles form on a door just before it explodes.
  • Sidekick: Hennessy, Beeman and Chas Kramer.
  • Sinister Whistling: After finally securing the rights to John Constantine's soul, Lucifer begins cheerily whistling as he drags him off to hell. Thankfully, God stops him at the last minute.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: The plot is loosely based on the Hellblazer story "Dangerous Habits". John's lung cancer, his argument with Gabriel (who exhibits more sympathy for him here), and Satan ripping the tumors from John's body are all taken from the comic. Other similarities include Gabriel panicking when found out by God (John mentions that "He" isn't happy about his angel schmoozing with the IRA), John cutting his wrists, Satan's trail of slime, and John flipping him off at the end.
  • 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. The last light to go out is the one near a statue of Virgin Mary.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Subverted, as John gets lung cancer and later, as he quits at the end of the movie (after Satan gets rid of the cancer).
  • Smug Snake:
    • Both Balthazar and Lucifer, as demons this is probably to be expected.
    • Gabriel also comes across as arrogant and self-satisfied, particularly in the movie’s climax.
  • Sore Loser: Satan is so outraged that he's being denied Constantine's soul, that he actually brings him back to life and cures his cancer, all in the hope Constantine will manage to damn himself again.
  • The Stinger: Chas dies but is resurrected as an angel. Constantine's not exactly thrilled at this development.
  • Suicide Is Shameful: Suicide is deemed sinful enough to guarantee a soul a place in Hell, even if the attempt fails. Subverted at the end, when Constantine uses his suicide as a Heroic Sacrifice to save the Earth and convince Satan to send Angela's sister to Heaven, rather than barter for more time for himself. This act of self-sacrifice earns him a place in Heaven... until Lucifer heals him in the hopes that he'll mess it up before he dies again.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Lucifer actually saves the day because Constantine summoned him. The Fallen One's pride is too great to allow another person, even his own son, damn the world. It's his job.
  • Super-Breath: After telling a helpless Constantine his plan, Gabriel blows, sending him crashing through a door. Also an example of Blow You Away.
  • Surprise Car Crash: Done in the beginning to show the strength of the supernatural threat. When the man it's possessing is suddenly hit by a truck, the vehicle is left with a huge dent in its grille and a mangled driver while he just keeps walking.
  • Survival Through Self-Sacrifice: Constantine has been destined for Hell ever since a failed suicide attempt in his childhood, but at the end of the film, he attempts to commit suicide again, knowing that the Devil will come to earth to personally claim his soul, screwing up the Big Bad's plan when he arrives. This, plus John negotiating with the Devil to have another soul released from Hell, is judged selfless and heroic enough for his soul to enter Heaven... until the Devil, furious at losing his right to John's soul, brings John back to life and cures his cancer, hoping that he will screw up at some point and get condemned to Hell again.
  • Take Off Your Clothes: Played with. Angela had to take off her blouse and get in water to reactivate her power, when asked Constantine whether she should take her bra off too, Constantine considered for a while.
  • Tap on the Head: Constantine to the bar's bouncer the second time he goes there.
  • Taunting the Unconscious: Chaz tries to enter Papa Midnite's club, but is denied entry by the bouncer because he isn't psychic and can't tell that a hidden card depicts "a rat in a dress". Later in the movie, Constantine knocks out the bouncer. Chaz takes advantage of the opportunity to taunt the unconscious bouncer by saying "Who's a rat in a dress now, huh, bitch?"
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You
    • Part of Lucifer's intervention is basically this. He believes only he is allowed to take over the human realm, not his son. He's willing to give up a sure-fire victory, just because he wants to do it himself. He makes it clear that he's willing to play the long game to accomplish it also.
    • Lucifer's rescue of John. John's made quite the reputation for himself, to the point that he's the one soul on Earth that Lucifer would collect in person. So when it looks like John's about to be admitted into Heaven after sacrificing his life to bargain for Isabel's soul, Lucifer rips out his lung cancer, extending his life just so he can have another chance to screw up and damn his soul once again.
  • There Are No Coincidences: Constantine offers this perspective at the end of the film.
    Constantine: I guess there's a plan for all of us. I had to die—twice—just to figure that out. Like the book says, "He works His work in mysterious ways." Some people like it...some people don't.
  • Thirsty Desert: There is no water in Hell except what you bring with you in bottles or bodies.
  • This Cannot Be!: Lucifer is freaked out that John's sacrifice is actually enough for God to write off his suicide and deem him worthy of entering Heaven. So freaked out, he decides to resurrect John so he has a second chance to screw up.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Chas is happy to see the bouncer who kept him out get knocked down.
    "Who's the rat in the dress now, huh, bitch?"
  • Time Stands Still:
    • Whenever people die, or use the Fire/Water Juxtaposition to take a brief trip to Hell, the outside world slows to a crawl.
    • Lucifer freezes Gabriel right before the latter is about to punch him.
  • To Hell and Back: Constantine is such an expert at doing this, he even teaches Angela to do it once.
  • 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. The actual John Constan-tyne is the Trope Namer for this one.
  • Truce Zone: Papa Midnite's bar was agreed to be such a place by God and Satan.
  • Twins Are Special: Isabela and Angela were born with strong psychic powers, strong enough for both to be considered good vessels for Lucifer's son Mammon to inhabit. Other powerful characters in the film are either a halfling of some sort or derive their powers using exorcism tools, with the exception of Witch Doctor Papa Midnite.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between John and Angela. So, so much of it. At least partly justified by the Roman Catholic ethics of John's world, in which extramarital sex is a sin.
  • 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.
    John: Gabriel. You're insane.
  • Villainous Rescue: As part of a last ditch effort, John kills himself to summon Satan. When he understands the whys, Satan saves the world because it is his job to destroy it.
  • Wait Here
    • When John goes to confront the half-demon Balthazar he tells his potential Love Interest Angela Dodson to stay in the car. After a while she decides to go after him, ends up losing the amulet he gave her to protect her, and is captured by their enemies.
    • When John goes to convince Papa Midnite to let him use the Chair, he anticipates that the confrontation will be dangerous and tells his apprentice Chas Kramer to wait. After the encounter ends amicably Chas shows up without being summoned and starts to show off his book learning, to Papa Midnite's amusement.
  • Waterlogged Warzone: Constantine arranges for the water in the hospital ceiling sprinkler system to be changed into holy water. He then sets off the sprinklers with a lighter, causing the half-breed demons he's facing to be doused with the holy water. This destroys their false human disguises, which makes them more vulnerable to attack. The water spray also covers the floor with water for the ensuing battle.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Gabriel shows this tract, even if Constantine calls her just insane. Even more after the climax, when she shows really happiness about Constantine refusing the dark and violent path of revenge and following instead a higher one, so being now really worth of God's love.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Gabriel intended this outcome on humans by ending the world.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Beeman manages to acquire certain rare objects for Constantine...for a price.
    Beeman: Yeah, easy there, hero. That's Dragon's Breath.
    John Constantine: I thought you couldn't get it anymore.
    Beeman: Yeah, well, I, uh, I know a guy who knows a guy.
  • Winged Humanoid: Half-Breeds.
  • Within Arm's Reach: While fighting a The Worm That Walks demon on a city street, Constantine uses a matchbox containing an Amityville screech beetle to break up the demon into its component creatures. When the box is knocked from his hand and the demon pins him to the ground, Constantine must grab a metal rod to hit the box to disperse the demon and free himself.
  • 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 critters of all shapes and sizes. It gets killed by a car.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: According to Constantine, seven minutes on Earth equals a lifetime in Hell. This is shown when he enters Hell; he orders Angela to leave the room, but the moment she closes the door, Constantine has returned, having had enough time to wander to the hospital and grab Isabel's tag.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: When Angela is about to be submerged in water so she can reactivate her powers, she teasingly suggests if she should remove her bra. John considers for a while, but ultimately objects.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Big Bad Gabriel to his ally Balthazar.
  • You're Insane!: Constantine's reaction to the Motive Rant.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Constantine


Balthazar Coin Walk

The demon Balthazar's first scene shows him doing a coin walk before confronting Constantine

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / CoinWalkFlexing

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