Movie Review: Hancock

Studio: Sony

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 Prince’s 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 he’s got nothing

better to do with himself.

He resents that people don’t 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 you’ll pay to see based on the

commercials, and for a while, that’s what you’ll get. Hancock is a deliberately

unlikable cross between Kanye West, Lindsay Lohan and Wolverine. To keep things

from getting too dark, Bateman (the film’s true MVP) provides the all-important

comic relief, and while the portrayal of Hancock’s 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

Hancock’s 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 plot’s resolution and

rather than a well-crafted build, we’re tossed a curveball to give the film an

excuse to continue for another 45 minutes. The eventual reveal of Hancock’s

origin is disappointingly thin, and only further paints the story into a


Ultimately, Hancock is

over-ambitious and doesn’t really work past its own premise. Calling it a

failure would be inaccurate, but the second half of the film is more like the

first’s shoddy sequel - both over simplified and needlessly complex at the same


“The comic-book was better” is a commonplace complaint,

and while Hancock isn’t based on a comic, the book would’ve 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.