Hancock

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Hancock - Will Smith is a not-so-super superhero

Oct 29, 2009 (Updated Oct 29, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:With an interesting premise, the movie started out decently enough.

Cons:But I didn't like the turn it took.

The Bottom Line: I like Will Smith, normally enjoying his movies. But this one was a miss, for me.


Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

I thought the first half was pretty interesting.  If nothing else, it was certainly "different".  But I didn't like the direction it took in the second half.  I'm talking about Hancock, Will Smith's "delinquent superhero" film.

Will Smith plays the title role, a superhero with strength and speed that rivals any other superhero out there.  He can leap tall buildings, lift cars with one hand, fly to any location instantly, and dodge bullets.  You know - all the stuff that you'd expect from a decent superhero.  But there's a very human side to him, too.  He's an alcoholic bum, full of anger and self-hatred.  He'd be just as happy to leave the superhero stuff behind, preferring to be miserable on his own, drowning himself in a bottle.   In fact, when he does heed the call to save a life, he's sloppy and resentful about the job.  So he ends up causing millions of dollars in "collateral" damage.  Like thoughtlessly breaking buildings and roads on his way to stop a heist.  Or derailing a train in order to save one man stuck on the tracks.  While he ends up saving a few individuals, he hurts many more people in the process, and he doesn't care one single bit.  As a result, the citizens resent him.  They insult him, calling him a certain name, starting with A, over and over again, and condemning his costly efforts.

But Hancock's life is about to change.  He just saved the life of PR man Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman).  And Ray wants to return the favor.  His specialty is "image enhancement" and he wants to help Hancock in this regard.  He convinces Hancock to clean up his act, and live up to the role model that he's expected to be.  He even convinces Hancock to do some time in prison, to help make up for all the damage he's caused.

As I said, it's a "different" premise, and I enjoyed this part of the film.  There were a few opportunities for some light humor, and I was intrigued, knowing that eventually we'd find out exactly who Hancock is, and how he came to be this way.

The special effects weren't the best I'd ever seen, but some of the gimmicks were cute, nonetheless.  There's even some tenderness shown between Hancock and Ray's young son, who idolizes him.  And, while Hancock's "punishment" doled out to a neighborhood bully might be considered "excessive", I thought it was justified.  Bullies deserve some hurt!

But then the film changed focus.  In its attempt to provide the back story to Hancock's character, it took a wrong turn, in my opinion.  It seems that Ray's wife Mary (Charlize Theron) has a secret of her own, and this is where the movie became far less enjoyable to me.  There were so many other paths that could have been taken, that would have made more sense to me, and been interesting to watch.  But the path they took seemed implausible to me on several levels.  Worst of all, it made me really dislike Mary's character, whereas I liked her just fine up until this point. 

Performances were pretty good - the actors did what they could, given the script.  And, visually, the movie was quite pleasing, sticking mostly with bright scenes, rather than the dark-toned themes frequently found in superhero movies.

Rated PG-13 for violence and language (the name-calling was excessive), this is not a movie for the kiddies.  But I don't think adults will love it, either.  I'm told the version we saw is quite different from the original one that was written.  Perhaps something simply got lost in the translation.  We're left with something too intense for kids, and too uneven for adults.  I liked it, at first, but looking back on it I find too many flaws, mostly in the second half.  Verdict: 2 stars.


Happy to be Lean-n-Mean.


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