Short version: Hancock is not the light and fluffy comedy you may think it is – it’s dark and coarse, but well worth checking out.
Screen Rant’s Hancock review
Here’s what you need to know about Hancock:
1. Everything you’ve seen in trailers and TV commercials (well, up until this week) takes place in the first 10 minutes of the movie.
2. This is one coarse, crass movie – so much so that I don’t know how it garnered a PG-13 rating with all the foul language in it.
3. If you like Will Smith, and want to see an unconventional superhero movie – go see it. Just leave the kids at home.
Hancock is an interesting film. It starts out strong, both in story and comedy but 1/3 of the way through heads in a completely different direction. It certainly has flaws (which some people can’t get past) but I found it extremely entertaining.
Will Smith plays, of course, the title character: an apparently homeless alcoholic who just happens to have super-powers. When we meet him he’s sleeping on a bench, cradling a bottle of whiskey – a young boy tries to wake him up because there’s a freeway chase happening in which the bad guys are causing huge havoc and shooting at civilians indiscriminately. Hancock is none to eager to help, and the boy ends up calling him an A-hole, except not abbreviated. It’s a term that is used over and over and over in the film.
The problem with Hancock is that whenever he perpetrates his acts of “heroism,” he causes mass collateral destruction, which is displayed in spades at the start of the film as he apprehends the carload of bad guys. I have to pause here and say that I thought that the flying scenes at the start of this movie were some of the best and most “real” I’ve seen – very nicely done and if you’re a superhero movie fan you’ll take notice.
The public has just about had it with him and it’s the last straw when he causes massive damage to a freight train while saving the life of Ray Embrey (played by Jason Bateman). Embrey has visions of saving the world through marketing but is pretty much a Quixotic character since his ideas are so outrageous to the corporate execs to whom he makes his pitches. In Hancock, he sees a great opportunity to do good, and to help him as well in exchange for saving his life.
He tries to convince Hancock that in order to be really effective, that people have to love him – in fact they should love him since he fights crime and saves lives. The problem is that Hancock couldn’t care less about what people think, or at least that’s what he puts out there.
Embrey brings him home and invites him in for dinner where Hancock meets Embrey’s son and wife (Charlize Theron). Our hero is not accustomed to being around families in general or children in particular and has dinner conversation skills that leave a lot to be desired as far as Embrey’s wife, Mary is concerned. She spends the evening looking at Hancock as someone she’d like to get away from her family ASAP.
Of course eventually Embrey turns Hancock around and makes him into a hero, but the movie also goes down a road that caught me by surprise.
So what works? Will Smith. It was fascinating watching him play a less than lovable character. I really liked the way his evolution from the character we met at the opening to the heroic character took so long to happen. He was portrayed as truly reluctant, one more than one level and it made the transformation that much more believable.
I also liked the amount of collateral damage he caused at the beginning of the film and the real-world reactions to it. One of the things you learn as a comic book fan is that you probably wouldn’t want to live in a city where they fight crime. They cause millions in damage every time the fight some supervillain.
What knocked the score down? The villain of the film comes out of nowhere, barely gets any screen time and just doesn’t even seem like they’re a part of the movie – so it was kind of non-sequiter. I won’t get into spoilers, but considering what the villain knows about Hancock, how this person figured they’d be able to actually kill him is beyond me.
However the end result was pretty damned entertaining (the pre-screen audience applauded when it was over), and stick around for a couple of minutes once the credits start rolling to see a really great bonus scene (no need to hang around to the end of the credits, though). Just do me a favor and get a babysitter: Hancock is not a “fun” movie for kids.