Constantine (TV, 2014)

Not familiar with the original story as depicted in DC Comics version of the same name, a tale of a man already condemned to hell, but trying to gain a reprieve from an eternity of fiery brimstone by doing good things for the man upstairs whilst still on earth, my first foray into the canon of this franchise was with Keanu Reeves playing the role of John Constantine in 2007.

 

His version, in fully fledged feature presentation form, was aided and abetted by Rachel Weisz and Tilda Swinton to name but two. With a healthy budget and some bankable stars, the film was a limited success commercially but has since garnered a more cult following. Reeves’ Constantine smoked like a chimney and didn’t take any shit. Period. I would say ‘full stop’, but like everything American, when it comes to this franchise, it seems, appears better and more believably comic.
Can I believe and put both stock and faith into a Swansea lad sporting a barely passable northern accent? Well, yes, I probably can and to be honest, if there is a problem here right from the getgo, it’s not really Matt Ryan. The man himself has thrown himself into the part quite admirably on first impression. Disheveled just enough to appear both taut and frenetic, both unpredictable and charismatic, it seems if anything, the script has the least to shout about, but at first glance, ‘the boy done good’.
In a world where everyone is telling us that ‘television is where it’s really at these days’, the quality of the writing here does not come up to par and needs to improve quickly. This may be what passes for unusual and exciting for many Americans audiences that may hear Matt Ryan speak, figuring him to be something of an unknown, even exotic, quantity, but for those of us that hear this accent everyday, it comes across as decidedly common, palpably local and as such, quite out of place with a character that may be deemed by many, beforehand, as otherworldly and more importantly, not likely to be found with a bottle of Stella in hand, out with the lads on a Saturday night at Wigan Pier.
Still, if this is what the canon calls for, I expect we shall get used to it, even if it seems immediately unconvincing. Better dialogue would make this more bearable for us Brits that are forced to bear it, but nonetheless, Ryan’s character development in the first episode of this eight episode season is acceptable enough and despite some very real lack of story as the obligatory characters introductions are made, the set up for the rest of the series becomes gratefully clear, even to those with less of a clue than this reviewer has.
Starting with the banishment of a demon that is chasing the daughter of a man that Constantine once knew and his intermittent visitations from an angel in the form of Harold Perrineau that has a job for him that may help redeem himself, promising at least a glint of a chance of still getting into heaven, the episode doesn’t go far enough to impress those of us that were waiting for ‘cool’ to arrive. This John Constantine doesn’t appear to smoke, incidentally, which apparently is just one of the changes made that will differ from your perceived notion of the character (should you already have one).
In all, a very watchable Matt Ryan, who delivers his lines with an appropriate amount of goodwill but that same goodwill from the audience should not be taken for granted. Audiences will need more meat in the stories, I would imagine, to keep them coming back. If the pilot is the best we can expect, then it is only the IMDb fan boys (that have already given this a remarkable 8.2 rating) that will watching by its conclusion. An interesting, promising start, but let’s hope for better.

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One comment

  1. Luckily I give all new show 2 eps. to impress me because as you say, while Matt Ryan isn’t bad..the script was WEAK..terribly terribly so. Not sure this one is going to make it for me which is too bad as I had high hopes for it, but there is just too much else that is really good to watch! 🙂

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