Lowdown: A superhero bum’s real struggle is in getting the public to accept him.
2008’s Hancock sounded like an interesting film back when it was released: a film about a guy who is a superhero on one hand but has a problem selling himself to the public on the other. Spiderman used to face similar issues, but Hancock seemed devoted to this unique look at the superhero theme. My opinion changed upon reading this review, which immediately relegated Hancock to filler status. Now that I watched the film in true filler fashion I have to agree with everything that review said.
Hancock (Will Smith) is a bum that happens to be a superhero. Sure, he saves the people of Los Angeles all the time, but his alcohol infused attitude means he tends to cause more damage while acting out his superhero role than good. Enter Ray (Jason Bateman) whose life Hancock saves: a failed PR consultant, Ray decides to help Hancock restore his image. His advice: go to jail as the authorities want in order to pay for all the damage you’ve done, and quickly enough they’ll be back on their knees asking for your help. Ray’s wife, Mary (Charlize Theron) doesn’t like the idea of Hancock interrupting their family routine.
As I said, the idea of having to sell a superhero to the public the way everything else is sold to us has merit: if good intentions need branding and selling, what have we as a society come down to? The problem is, however, that somewhere towards the end of its second act Hancock strays from its original course altogether. We get a surprising twist (hint: you wouldn’t cast Charlize Theron to just play the role of the mildly annoyed wife, would you?); this is nice, but we also get a totally new yet totally ordinary direction. What used to be a fresh look at the superhero genre (albeit one that is far from knocking you off your sofa) before the twist becomes something we’ve all seen many times before.
The result? Meh. At least Hancock is short and sweet.
Best scene: An annoyed Hancock sticks a guy head inside the ass of another’s. Superheroes don’t tend to exploit their special powers in such ingenious way, do they?
Worst scene: When Hancock discovers he needs to get as far away as possible from a very special person, where does he venture to from his native Los Angeles? New Zealand? Australia? China, perhaps? No, the furthest place from Los Angeles according to Hancock’s stupidly American centric moviemakers is New York.
Overall: Signs of promise are all too quickly subdued. Because I was so disappointed with the way this film disappointed me, I’m giving it 2 out of 5 stars.