There are more than a few individuals in the DC universe that are kind of hard to deal with, but John Constantine is one of the worst, and he knows it. His reputation around the DC universe has been well-earned over the years since he is one of the most arrogant, but knowledgeable, individuals when it comes to magic and mysticism. The funny thing is that he knows when he’s out of his league, but he’s still the type of guy that’s going to work every possible angle he can find to come out the other side of a fight, a deal, or even just a situation, with his skin and soul intact. Constantine has been displayed in a couple of different ways over the years when it comes to the movies, but this definitely feels like the most accurate representation. He’s a jerk without question, even to those that think of him as a friend, and he uses that same attitude when he’s conversing with a human or with a denizen of the lower planes. This story is one of those that could have benefited from a longer running time, but it still comes off as something entertaining enough since it stays true to Constantine’s character.
When an old friend contacts John, looking to enlist his help in saving his daughter, a recurring vision keeps coming to mind from the past. It’s revealed when John and his buddy Chas were still an active part of a band that they had a run-in with a demon known as Nergal that John summoned to deal with an individual that was ready and willing to sacrifice his own daughter. The problem is that even while Nergal was able to do as John wanted him to do, he ended up taking the girl, Astra to his realm, where her soul has apparently been tortured ever since.
John accepts the task given to him when he discovers that Chas’ daughter’s soul has been abducted from her body, but throughout the movie, it’s made clear that John is going to do what he feels is right, not necessarily what others are going to understand. His dealings with the demon that enlists his help in eliminating his rivals are fraught with enough perils and threats that make it clear that even Constantine isn’t bound to be able to solve the issue on his own. But when he has the spirit of a city interested in him, and his possible victory, short-lived as it might be in the span of a demon’s life, anything can happen. There’s no doubt however that throughout the movie, John is bound to continue acting in his own best interests, while still doing what amounts to the right thing. But when dealing with demons it’s been seen more than once that one has to be wary of every single syllable that’s uttered. Constantine knows this, but he also knows that demons are crafty beings that don’t like to lose. When it’s established that Nergal is the one that wants John to work for him, things get a little tenser as John’s disdain for the demon starts to taint his mission and his emotions begin to come into play.
It’s interesting to see the moments when Constantine decides to do something for another person and disregard his own safety since this character is often very driven and not given to do anything to help others unless there’s a point to it. But thinking that Constantine is completely heartless would be an error since the guy does manage to risk his life for others since he knows the value of keeping people out of hell, especially if it means screwing over the many malevolent beings that he’s had to deal with throughout his life. It’s very easy to see how many would think that Constantine is a truly wretched individual since he does plenty of things that would irritate a lot of people. But at the same time, he does work against the darker forces that he knows so well, and he does seek to help humanity when necessary. But his methods are usually beyond what anyone would want to consider as useful since he’s a bit of a gambler as well.
But in combatting and eventually defeating Nergal, he has to do something that would be unforgivable if Chas were to remember it since to retrieve the soul of Chas’ daughter, he has to erase all memory of Chas from the lives of his daughter and wife. The price for dealing with demons and even defeating them on occasion appears to be a loss that many wouldn’t want to consider. But in his own way, Constantine does manage to do the right thing, even if he’s not always forthcoming. As long as the job gets done, that’s kind of how things have to be.