I’m late as hell with this review, so gimme a break.
Will Smith (I Am Legend) AKA Mr. Fourth of July is back. He’s a certified cash cow, and Hancock is no exception. Regardless of your opinion of Mr. Smith, he’s box office gold. Hancock opened at number 1 over Independence Day weekend, marking the twelfth time Smith has grabbed the top spot in his career. While Smith’s resume is impressive, the same cannot be said for Hancock, an entertaining romp with more fluff than substance.
Smith stars as the titular Hancock, a reluctant super-hero. His trusty sidekick is a bottle of whiskey, not another dude in tights. Hancock protects the citizens of Los Angeles in hit-or-miss, devil-may-care fashion, nabbing the bad guys while leaving millions of dollars of damage in his wake. Imagine using a sledgehammer to kill a mosquito, and you’ve got Hancock’s approach to crime fighting. His methods don’t exactly endear him to the city, and soon its residents would rather Hancock take his super powers elsewhere. Hancock does have at least one fan, a man he rescued from death by the name of Ray Embrey, a public relations executive who would like to repay Hancock by repairing his damaged public image. Embrey is played by Jason Bateman (Smokin’ Aces, Juno), an actor whose movie career has been steadily on the rise as of late. Ray has a young son and lovely wife Mary (Charlize Theron, In the Valley of Elah), who curiously takes an instant dislike to the abrasive Hancock. We soon discover that Mary and Hancock have more in common than Hancock could ever imagine and that’s when we enter into (to borrow a phrase from Barack) “silly season.”
I enjoyed Hancock in part because it provided the staples one can expect from a summer flick: entertainment, good special effects, and lots of humor. These are the mainstays of a so-called “popcorn” movie, and in that regard Hancock did not disappoint. On the other hand, the storyline wore quite thin and was actually nonsensical in certain parts. Characters referenced events that didn’t transpire and the dialogue became contradictory. For example, in one scene Hancock attempts to kiss Mary and she rejects him. Later, Hancock references the kiss. The only problem is that it didn’t happen, there was no kiss! Whenever you have characters referencing scenes that were left on the cutting room floor, it serves as an overall detraction from the movie. The performances were fine, but let’s be real – this is fluff stuff here. The camera loves Will Smith and he has charisma by the truckload, but there was no challenge here. The movie tried to explore the emotional pain Hancock experiences as a result of being unappreciated, and his desire to be loved and accepted – but those moments were fleeting and quickly forgotten once the script veered toward the ridiculous. To put it simply: the explanation of Hancock’s backstory and how he discovered his powers was just laughable. Regarding Charlize Theron, she is an extremely talented Academy Award winning actress with a nice mix of serious and light movies in her repertoire, but this is not a performance anyone will be talking about months from now. Actor and director Peter Berg (The Kingdom) has a bright future behind the camera, but I just don’t think he had a strong script to work with, and the movie suffered as a result. Once you get past Hancock’s interesting premise of an “everyman” superhero, the movie falls short. If you haven’t seen it in theaters already, I’d suggest adding Hancock to your Netflix queue instead. If you want to see a real superhero movie check out The Dark Knight.