Hancock Review

Published 7 years ago by , Updated July 12th, 2008 at 2:37 pm,

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.

hancock reviews Hancock Review
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.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. Exact same review from me. I saw it last night and gave it 3.5 as well. I had a good time with my buds seeing it.

    The only issue I had is that the ‘twist’… if we can call it that, was blatantly obvious from the first scene the twisty person is in, heh. (avoiding spoilage)

    Now I got to see Wanted and I’m all caught up.

  2. Well said.

  3. I’m looking forward to this movie, as MOST Will Smith films are very enjoyable films. (I found “I Am Legend” disappointing.) I will probably see it this weekend.

  4. BTW, I forgot to mention that I think they really should have just gone with an R-rating on this. I wonder what it would have been like to watch it as intended instead of having been carved down to a PG-13.


  5. I havent seen the film .
    I am saving it for my birthday in two weeks .
    However , I am angered that the studio is engaged in questionable advertising for the film.

    recent ads talk about hancocks having a secret and then they do a closeup of a person saying “but one person knows his secret”.
    again, its a closeup which they show more then once .
    leaving no doubt who has this knowledge.
    Why would they do this?
    it seems they fear the twist might affect box office , so they are telegraphing it so people are not completely surprised .
    I dont like SPOILERS in my ads.
    particularly when they relate to plot points i am not supposed to know anything about!

  6. sorry about giving away a spoiler in my last post but i was really complaining they are giving too much away in the ads .
    i put a spoiler warning in there but i will be more careful in the futire.

  7. going to see this Sunday should be cool… ;-)

  8. Similar review for me, seemed like the baddy was an afterthought. Good review man, I will buy this on DVD, as it was fun. I can’t anyone other than will smith playing hancock.

    Any news on a sequal? Was this a franchise starter or a one off?

  9. a sequel depends on the box office at this point

  10. nikki finke reports that between the teusday night previews and yesterday Hancock has made 24 million so far .
    so, its looking good.

  11. Hancock looks like interesting spin on the latest superhero movie craze… if nothing else at least Will Smith tends to be pretty funny

  12. It’ll make loads of coin this weekend. Will Smith is Indepedence Day, lol.

    In the states, he should own this weekend

  13. Friend of mine saw Hancock today and told me that he noticed 2 groups leaving the show with their kids.
    He said that the film should have been rated R for the language alone.

    I’m seeing this on Sunday…..

  14. I enjoyed it – most interesting part was the fact that the movie is a parable for U.S. power in 2008 – a ‘superhero/superpower’ that wants to do good but because it’s not part of a community ends up being hated and causing great damage – the film is full of visual/script cues pointing to this thematically in a real clever way!

  15. If you havnt seen the film do not read !!! There are MAJOR SPOILERS ahead.


    Don’t get upset !!!

    I Pretty much agree with Vics review.

    For some reason Hancock was a little uncooked for me.

    The “Twist” was pretty cool, I knew they had a past, just not that kind of past.
    I liked that but there is a scene that totally jumps the shark for me.
    When,Hancock asks Mary what their connection is she dosnt tell him because she dosnt want anyone to know her secret, then Hancock persists to a point where Mary freaks out like she’s posessed by X-Men’s Storm character, and takes it out into the streets of Hollywood where at that point everyone knows she’s a superheroin. Wtf was that?
    Just explain yourself woman. Sheesh!

    And I really didn’t like the (Marty McFly) routine with that “what did you call me ?”. That got old real fast…. Very tired writting in certain scenes.

    The jailhouse scene that involved sticking something up somewhere was very freaky and R rated.

    I smell shananagens at the MPAA. (IMO)the standards are lower then ever, all for the money.

    Anyway, after seeing this film I think we know why Will Smith turned down Superman. He wanted his own off beat version. ;-)
    The ending certainly leaves the sequel door wide open. (I did see that coming).

  16. I thought it was pretty good. It hard to lose with Will Smith.

  17. meine fresse ist der film cool

  18. What a GREAT RIDE! I thought Speed Racer was fun and daring and different. Iron Man, Hulk, both fine fine movies. (Hulk was better, somehow.) Now Hancock. Excellent take on a potentially tired and formulaic genre.

    The twist took me entirely by surpise. Yeah I would say it seemed there was history (or badly played sexual tension), but it was not played up much.

    The concept of proximity spawning mortality was intriguing. I didn’t think in such an unorthodox hero movie, that we would hear origins. In fact the simple “I’m the only one of my kind” made me breathe a sigh of relief–no recap of a crash landing or a power manifesting itself in gym class.

    Of course the villianS became such at the last minute. The writing around this was so very lame. “You let him take your power away from you. Stand in your power.” Haha sounds like motivational claptrap. Don’t let them take your dream!!!

    The twist and sudden opposition had to happen because Hancock needed to be convinced to “get outta town” (more Marty McFly for 790).

    I thought it was gonna be a one-shot movie, sort of guaranteeing no return. I would have been fine with that. I didn’t mind the open door though. Of COURSE it depends on the box office returns. It always does. Unless you’re Michael Moore. (Shouldn’t he have a hit piece soon?)

  19. I just came home from seeing this movie at an 8pm showing. There was a strong crowd for it and there was clapping at the end of the film. I never understood clapping in a theater where none of the people involved with film are.

    Anyways, I really enjoyed the movie. I agree with Vic’s 3.5 rating. There was alot to like in this movie, especially how it was TOTALLY different than any other superhero movie ever made. I think Will Smith is one of the best actors in Hollywood today, as seems to be able to play any role. I agree that the main villian seemed to be thrown in as an afterthought, but overall I found this to be a totally enjoyable 1.5 hours.

    I will be buying this on DVD.