Martin Carr reviews the ninth episode of Constantine…
So I missed the party. Dubious carpet stains and semi-clad wastrels still cling to upholstery as the first wave of hangovers turn up and spoil your fun ….that’s me; poetic to the last. King procrastinator and media mouthpiece for an over worked and underpaid populous. I have been off the reservation to use an old western term and my creative consciousness has therefore alluded me. For that I apologise.
In my forced absence Constantine has made a welcome return to less than open arms. Back at the tail end of 2014 I had the good fortune to see this second part minus whistles and bells. By which I mean of course any finished effects work. After the cliff hanger which left audiences on tender hooks over Christmas and Thanksgiving, this instalment felt like a whole lot of squandered opportunities which team Cerone failed to deliver on.
Now I alongside with a worldwide fraternity of likeminded people have banded behind this faithful interpretation from the get go. In this respect that has not changed. All the caustic humour and network baiting boundary pushing are still in place. Matt Ryan remains the personification of an unsavoury Scouser with a penchant for morally reprehensible behaviour. Not only are the methods less than textbook, whether welcoming in a demonic entity for protection or imbibing class ‘A’ narcotics to stupefy said malevolent spirit, Ryan remains the bedrock upon which this show rests.
What continues to hit a false note, at least in this episode is Zed, captured by forces unknown while Anne Marie turns on John in the sewer leaving him to die. That people was a cliff hanger. As I pointed out some weeks ago Angelica Celaya has shown Zed to be more resourceful when up against it. Not only did the capture not ring true. But her subsequent escape was all a little too neat and tidy. If anything Claire van der Boom as Anne Marie Flynn faired far better, displaying a pathos and empathy with Constantine whilst keeping him at a distance. However, these emotional beats tended to distract from the whirlwind which Ryan became during the more supernatural elements, making it tonally uneven in parts. This imbalance may also have something to do with their choice of filmic homage.
‘The Exorcist’ which is referenced through the demon Pazuzu, is not only invited in but cast out just as swiftly. Not only is the choice of entity acknowledged but specific visual effects are also given credence as well. Whereas the original had Mercedes McCambridge blind drunk, strapped to a rocking chair and screaming off camera, Constantine chose post production vocal trickery and mood lighting. My feeling is that however well done the exorcism scene may have been it was given very short thrift. This was compounded by the expectation which almost always fails to live up to your imagination when push comes to shove. That in part may go some way to explaining why numbers dropped despite the new time slot. However it is my feeling that this demonologist and dark arts dabbler will not go down without a fight. But rage at close of play against the dying of the light.
Listen to our interview with Constatine star Charles Halford using the player below: