From a mere glance at Hancock’s
premise on paper, one might be inclined to deem it a solid, if
risky proposition for a summer blockbuster. In fact, I firmly
believe that the central idea behind the film—a superhero being
genetically endowed with his powers and turning into a recluse
over them because of ensuing social-estrangement—is the type of
thing that we should all be welcoming in Hollywood. The concept
behind the film, credited to co-writer Vincent Ngo (Vince
Gilligan did a re-write), is truly original and even a little
daring; it represents just the kind of artistic gambling that we
see all too little of in today’s mainstream cinema. By all
means, Hancock should be an exhilarating picture because
it’s one that we’ve never quite seen before.
But the movie
takes none of the risks that its lofty background-story assumes.
In truth, I think I myself could’ve written a better screenplay
out of Ngo’s idea than he did.
The fact that
the first two acts of the movie, which introduce Hancock and his
internal-dilemma, are rather captivating (while not great) makes
the movie’s ultimate result all the more disappointing. Will
Smith leads things off strong with a pitch-perfect—at least by
PG-13 standards for a character that deserves an R-rated
film—characterization of the titular-hero. Hancock is a badassed,
arrogant drunk, but not one without a heart, which makes his
pairing with image-consultant Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman, in a
bitingly good performance) ideal. Hancock saves Ray from being
run over by a train in a standard car-on-tracks debacle, only to
have Ray (who is struggling in his career) then return the favor
by offering his services as an image-cleaner and PR-assistant.
He has Hancock serve some time that he owes in prison, say “Good
job” to the failing police-officers at the crime-scenes he must
help to fix, and act politely with the press.
reveal what ultimately ruins the movie so as to not spoil it for
readers who have yet to see it. (Although, for the record,
WALL-E and Kung-Fu Panda and even Wanted are
better selections to catch this Fourth of July weekend.) I will
say, however, that it involves plot-developments concerning
Ray’s wife, Mary (Charlize Theron), who secures a solid amount
of screen-time during the film’s final thirty minutes. To be
completely blunt without giving anything away: Hancock’s
third-act is a complete and utter mess. The movie sets up a
plot-twist concerning Mary for no apparent reason other than
that Ngo and Gilligan saw nowhere to go with the Hancock
character himself. This leads to a finale that defies all
established logic; there is no explanation for what happens and,
as a result, any emotional-connection that viewers forge with
the characters over the course of the movie is jeopardized. Had
the picture concluded in an apt manner, I might’ve been able to
excuse its sappy and out-of-place final scene. As it is, the
whole tail end of Hancock is an outright disaster.
picture offers lots of visual spectacle—money buys anything
nowadays in Hollywood—and runs a very quick ninety-two minutes.
But just about every other summer-picture can boast the same;
this should be unconditionally expected from one with such a
rich premise and a director of Peter Berg’s (The Kingdom,
Friday Night Lights) caliber. That Hancock is such a
disappointment is a shame; had the movie been done right, it
could’ve been a contemporary summer classic, well in line with
Ang Lee’s Hulk, Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report,
and M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. Instead, what we have
here, my friends, is a dud.
-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews
Review Published on: 7.2.2008
Screened on: 7.1.2008 at MovieMax
Theatres in Carlsbad, CA.