Plot: Hancock (Will Smith) is not your average super hero. He doesn't have a secret identity or wear tights, and also drinks too much. He seemingly only fights crime out of boredom, and is less than friendly the people he protects- causing many to think he's as bad as the criminals he puts away. One day, he saves the life of an earnest public relations man (Jason Bateman), who decides to revamp Hancock's image- and refashion him as a kinder, gentler super hero.
Review: I guess this must be the summer of the super hero! We've had it pretty good so far, with IRON MAN & THE INCREDIBLE HULK both being superior examples of the super hero genre, and THE DARK KNIGHT looks like it might be a flat out masterpiece. Unfortunately, HANCOCK is nowhere near as good as the other superhero movies out there. While it's not quite the disaster some critics are already saying it is- HANCOCK is still a deeply flawed film.
Considering the fact that HANCOCK reportedly cost $150 Million and stars Will Smith- the king of the event movie, I expected the film to be a lot more impressive than it ultimately is. Judging from the scant 90 minute run time (which is unusual for a big film like this), and the overall choppiness of the film, I imagine HANCOCK is the victim of too much studio tampering. I have a feeling that director Peter Berg was probably trying to make drastically different film than the one that's hitting theaters in a few days.
For the most part- HANCOCK plays out like a fairly straight-forward comedy, and seems like a radical departure for Berg who's known for grittier fare like FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS & THE KINGDOM. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the film is actually quite funny. The problems arise in the third act, when all of a sudden the film becomes a drama. Something big is revealed about one of the characters (I'm not telling what), and then suddenly a new villain is introduced leading up to a fairly violent showdown, which is completely out of tone with the rest of the film. Something tells me that a lot of the film ended up being re-shot and I have a feeling (judging from Berg's participation, and the fact that none other than MIchael Mann is listed as an executive producer) that a lot more comedy was inserted into the first hour than was originally intended. Supposedly the script for the film (originally titled TONIGHT, HE COMES- great porn title BTW) has been floating around Tinseltown for over a decade, but I'm sure that at this point virtually nothing from the original script remains in the film.
Despite the fact that the film was likely torn to pieces by the studio- what remains is actually not that bad. One of the early reviews of the film said that it's worse than LAST ACTION HERO and that is definitely not the case (nothing is worse than that film). While some of the more comedic elements of the film might have been added at the last minute, the jokes more or less work due in large part to Will Smith. Smith is one of those actors who, despite consistently breaking box office records, is under appreciated as an actor. He does a great job as HANCOCK, and makes a great super hero, even if the character is a little bland. Jason Bateman does a great job as Hancock's PR guy, although at times it was a little jarring to seeing him playing a character so similar to the one he played on ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.
Charlize Theron is also featured as Bateman's onscreen wife. Many seem surprised that Theron would sign on to play such a seemingly superfluous role, although the role is much more prominent than you'd assume by watching the trailers or TV spots. Like Smith & Bateman, Theron is a pretty reliable performer, and does well here.
While it would have been nice to see a film that didn't reek of studio tampering- HANCOCK is nonetheless fairly entertaining. While I'm sure the film will get absolutely trashed by the critics, it's not as bad as they're going to say it is. While it's definitely not the best super hero movie out there - it's a solid evening of entertainment - and worth checking out, especially if you're a fan of any of the three lead actors.
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