In the new action/supernatural thriller CONSTANTINE, Keanu Reeves portrays the title character, a rogue magus of sorts, born with the ability to see the half-breed devils and angels on Earth. Driven crazy by his gift, he commits suicide as a teenager, only to be revived with modern medicine. Now doomed to go to Hell when he dies because of his suicide, he has been battling demons who cross the line when it comes to their attempts to influence humanity in his bid to gain entrance to Heaven.
In this movie adaptation, John Constantine has been transformed from the blonde, British man wearing a tan trench coat in the HELLBLAZER comics, to the brunette, dark-coated Reeves, demon-busting on the streets of Los Angeles. He is a chain-smoking cynic, just diagnosed with lung cancer. Among his arsenal against the dark legions is holy water from the river Jordan, screech beetles from Egypt, dragon’s breath, a crucifix shotgun and a pair of mystic symbols on his forearms.
We get glimpses of Constantine’s forearm tattoos a few times during the movie. These are unique to the film adaptation, so don’t go looking for them in the graphic novels. You can see them peeping out of Constantine’s white shirt when he rolls up his sleeves. You first really get a look when Constantine and Angela (actress Rachel Weisz) are eating in a diner after he has traveled to Hell to see if her twin sister Isabel, a suicide herself, really is there. They also make an appearance when Constantine submerges Angela in his bathtub to enable her to cross over briefly and visit Hell.
As part of the climactic end confrontation, Constantine finally “whips” out the tattoos to force the arch angel Gabriel (actress Tilda Swinton) to take corporeal form. Repeating the phrase “Into the light I command you” he literally rolls up both sleeves and brings his forearms together, connecting the two designs. The images on each forearm align to form one large overall image.
The symbol is from a group of seventeenth century alchemy designs created by Eugenius Philalethe and means "the sulfur of perfection." It appears that the same design is tattooed on both arms so that when Constantine brings his arms together, the bilateral symmetry forms the whole design again. Given that the manifestation of demons brings a sulfurous aftersmell, it must be something to the theory that "like draws like" that allows Constantine to force Gabriel to appear with the incantation.
Peter Stormare, who shows up in the final sequences as Lucifer himself, also has tattoos on him. However, this is more of the “teaser” variety, with bits sticking out of his shirt collar along his neck, and along his wrists at the ends of his shirt sleeves. All that can be seen are black spiky points that taper down and end. It looks like they feed back to something more solid and comprehensive but nothing is said of them and no more is shown. His version of evil is so suave and self-assured, the tattoos are a complete throwaway.
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Constantine (Widescreen Edition) or check out more cool movie tattoos.