Hancock Review  


After some nitpicky early reviews I was fully prepared to see Hancock, the "suckfest without meaning". Boy, what a pleasant surprise. Hancock ist not the same-old, same-old in new clothes. There are a couple of different ways to "read" Hancock, though, more on that later.

Iron Man doesn't want to produce weapons anymore, The Incredible Hulk hates the whole Hulk-thing/uncontrollable violence and now there's Hancock (Will Smith), a depressed and jaded superhero who cares more about saving lives than appearances and money. His sidekick of sorts is PR-specialist Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman). Ray fights the good fight not on the streets but in the office. When he presents his concept "All heart" to a bunch of deep pocket suits, however, their reaction is disheartening. Rays concept is very simple: he suggests the pharma industry hand out meds for free to those who can't pay to stay alive. I suppose he didn't expect that saving lives could not be priority. Not even if that would help restore the industry's tarnished image. Ray's concept "All heart" seems DOA.

After we've seen Ray fail, a drunk Hancock saves his life - once again causing a few million $ worth of damage followed by media outrage. Ray wants to repay the favor by helping Hancock build a new image for himself. We fully expect his project to go the way of "All Heart" but it doesn't. Hancock gets a make-over, a new attitude, goes to jail, attends anger management group therapy - and waits. Finally, he gets released in order to help with a hostage situation.

There, Parker (Eddie Masran, who plays a similar role in the upcoming Happy-Go-Lucky) wants to force Hancock to hand over 30 million in exchange for the hostages. That doesn't fly and he temporarily ends up behind bars. He swears he'll come after Hancock....

When he's not on the job, Hancock hangs out with Ray and his son Aaron (Jae Head), who's a big Hancock-fan. Ray's wife Mary (Charlize Theron) considers Hancock to be a loser and bad influence but Ray doesn't care. He's found someone who shares his vision, a true friend. In the final scene their connection is made perfectly clear in a sweet and innocent way. I'm sure some will find it corny.

Yes, there are plenty of big action scenes including a "battle of the superheroes" scene. That one is not just cool action but it's also very funny due to some facts I cannot divulge (spoilers). I have to say, though, that sometimes I wondered if Will Smith was shaky on his feet because he was supposed to be drunk Hancock or if the editing was lousy. I could almost see the strings Smith was tied up in. On the other hand, Hancock the movie doesn't take itself too seriously. Once in a while it's a tad spoofy and that's not necessarily a bad thing, either.

Now, regarding the ways the movie can be read. I've chosen the innocent kind of reading that's about charity and goodwill, about sharing the wealth rather than obsessing about stock prices. There is of course another way of reading Hancock: Does "hated superpower saves lives to the tune of millions of $ in damages which causes the public to demand superpower quit saving lives" ring any bells? Does Ray and his soft approach, his focus and the suggestions he makes to Hancock (including he be more polite, appreciate what others are doing/collaborate (police), be more careful/cause less damage)? Does the collaboration of super-powered Hancock and near-powerless Ray give you any ideas? Exactly.

In that context the notion that two superheroes can't reside in the same area without losing their powers might even make sense. It makes sense that one superhero has to leave. Coming to think of it - it also makes sense that a superhero hides his abilities in order to ditch the responsibilities that are part of the superhero job description...

Will Smith is great, so what else is new (not counting shaky feet moments)? Charlize Theron didn't fully convince me but that's in part due to one of those horrible crying scenes with instant red eyes (take # 100?). Look how Will wells up - that's more honest than crocodile tears from eyes so red they'd be perfect for those artificial tears commercials. Jason Bateman didn't have that much to do, sexy and sweet he does well.

Supposedly there will be Hancock 2 - if this one does well. $ 4000+/theater does look promising, especially because the viewers don't seem to agree with the nitpickers. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

screenplay: Vincent Ngo & Vince Gilligan
director: Peter Berg (Kingdom)

Hancock Cast:
Hancock - Will Smith
Ray Embrey - Jason Bateman
Mary Embrey - Charlize Theron
Aaron Embrey - Jae Head
Red - Eddie Marsan
Jeremy (cameo) - Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)

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