Release date: July 2, 2008
Cast: Will Smith, Jason Bateman, Charlize Theron
Cookouts, American flags, daytime drinking and Will Smith
movies; is it July 4th already? This year, The Fresh Princes annual blockbuster comes in
the form of Hancock, a super-hero
film of sorts that puts a realistic twist on the classic Superman story by, as
characters repeatedly point out, making him an a**hole.
John Hancock (Smith) literally wakes up one day as an
amnesiac with super-strength and the ability to fly. When a couple of guys who
are up to no good start making trouble in his neighborhood, Hancock jumps in to
play hero. But his decision is made mostly because hes got nothing
better to do with himself.
He resents that people dont welcome his help, and the
isolation he feels turns him into a depressed, incompetent alcoholic. His work
gets sloppy (usually making things worse) and the public turns on him. Eventually, Hancock happens to save the life of a publicist
(Jason Bateman) who decides to help the bedraggled super-hobo refine his image
– in hopes that maybe people will learn to like him.
This is the movie youll pay to see based on the
commercials, and for a while, thats what youll get. Hancock is a deliberately
unlikable cross between Kanye West, Lindsay Lohan and Wolverine. To keep things
from getting too dark, Bateman (the films true MVP) provides the all-important
comic relief, and while the portrayal of Hancocks depression gets a bit hammy
at times, it generally feels appropriate.
Everything works fairly well for the half-hour or so that
the film sticks to this formula, but then things change. An explanation of
Hancocks origin is naturally attempted, but is done so with a poorly executed
plot twist that completely changes the tone of the film.
Too many ideas are forced into the plots resolution and
rather than a well-crafted build, were tossed a curveball to give the film an
excuse to continue for another 45 minutes. The eventual reveal of Hancocks
origin is disappointingly thin, and only further paints the story into a
Ultimately, Hancock is
over-ambitious and doesnt really work past its own premise. Calling it a
failure would be inaccurate, but the second half of the film is more like the
firsts shoddy sequel – both over simplified and needlessly complex at the same
The comic-book was better is a commonplace complaint,
and while Hancock isnt based on a comic, the book wouldve been better if it existed. As a 92-minute film however, Hancock is (at best) two thirds of a
good movie. Save it for a Sunday afternoon on cable.