Adapted from the DC Comics series Hellblazer, Constantine isn't your average effects-studded wish fulfillment. First, this soul-scarred hero has no mask. Second, he's got cancer, because he smokes. (You might too if you cast out demons for a living.) ''I didn't want to make a 'comic-book movie,' in terms of colors or tone,'' says Francis Lawrence, a music-video director making his feature debut. ''Constantine is like Harrison Ford in Blade Runner a noir antihero.''
The film has Keanu Reeves and a detective (Rachel Weisz) investigating the mystery of her murdered twin, which leads them to L.A.'s supernatural underbelly and a big bad voodoo daddy named Papa Midnite (Djimon Hounsou). Originally slated for last fall, it was pushed to 2005 by Warner Bros. only to escape the glut of Halloween-timed horror, insists the director. Shia LaBeouf who plays Constantine's wannabe apprentice praises Lawrence for his poise, Reeves for bringing his A game (''People don't understand how [intense] he is''), and the on-set exorcist who offered pointers on casting out demons. ''The Latin was rough,'' says the actor. And ''there's not a lot of places in L.A. where you can practice.''