Raves for Reeves.

Since that seldom appears in a headline, you’ll probably want to see “Constantine,” where Keanu finally gets “The Matrix” right.

If you were to drain half the gobbledygook out of “The Matrix,” you’d end up with a more entertaining film. You’d end up with “Constantine.”

Like “Matrix,” “Constantine” is top-notch eye candy. Based on the comic book “Hellblazer,” “Constantine” emulates the instantaneous visual impact of comics.

The stylized, almost film noir design uses extreme close-ups and bizarro angles to give us the feeling you get from the best comics, the feeling that we are seeing everything from an angle that is perfect, unexpected and new.

The unexpected crops up so often in “Constantine” that you start to expect it; every 10 minutes or so, there’s a good-sized jolt. The movie’s not scary, exactly, but its matter-of-fact depiction of a world filled with demons just out of our consciousness is unsettling in the same way that it is if your power has been off for a while and it suddenly springs back on, triggering every appliance in the house at once.

Keanu Reeves, who has often detracted from the movies in which he appears but who has a neutral and occasionally even positive impact on “Constantine,” plays an exorcist who is part paranormal investigator, part ’40s private eye.

He’s hired by a woman (Rachel Weisz) whose sister died in an accident that has vaguely religious/supernatural overtones. The crash is mostly an excuse to parade around eye-popping special effects that convey the film’s idea that we are always surrounded by forces we cannot explain or see.

Weisz is an actress with a gift for making drab roles seem more interesting than they are. In fact, “Constantine” is filled with unique actors (Pruitt Taylor Vince, Tilda Swinton, Djimon Hounsou, Shia LaBeouf) who take stock roles and give them a little extra oomph.

It’s sort of like the way supporting actors on new sitcoms try to make their characters as indelible as possible while they wait for the writers to come up with stuff for them to do. And, in the final scene of “Constantine,” which occurs after the end credits, a final jolt hints that this movie isn’t done coming up with surprising things for these actors to do.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.