Hancock


Directed by: Peter Berg
Written by:Vincent Ngo, Vince Gilligan
Starring: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, Jae Head, Eddie Marsan, David Mattey
Released: July 3, 2008
Grade: C

There have been some recent articles on the internet about the “bankability” of actor Will Smith.  Since 2002, he has appeared in 8 movies.  Every one of those films made more than $135m in the United States.  Trust me, that’s an impressive credit to put on one’s resume.  It tells the big Hollywood studios that if you want a movie to be a financial success, you should give Will Smith a call.

I’m sure Hancock will make plenty of money.  How could it not?  That said, I’m glad I didn’t contribute to the box-office total by having to pay for my ticket.  This film is horrendous.  It’s the worst thing that Will Smith has done since the forgettable Wild Wild West in 1999.

When you look at the overall premise, you’ll see that the movie had potential.  Will Smith plays John Hancock, a resident of Los Angeles who has super powers.  He can fly, he has incredible strength and he cannot be killed.  He uses his abilities to help capture bad guys and rescue citizens from perilous situations.

The problem is that Hancock isn’t exactly a “textbook” superhero.  He often has a bottle of alcohol in his hands and he dresses like a hobo.  He’s also an expert at damaging property.  We see him end a police chase at the start of the film but in doing so, Hancock causes $9m worth of damage to roads and buildings.  It has many people wondering if Hancock is a benefit or detriment to the community.

Fate introduces Hancock to Ray Embrey (Bateman), a public relations consultant who thinks he can improve Hancock’s image.  Ray’s strategy for is for Hancock to serve time in jail for his wrongdoings.  Once a few weeks have passed, the public will miss not having him around to “save the day” and will want to see him released.  The new and improved Hancock will then return to a hero’s welcome and all the past will be forgotten.  However, it doesn’t quite work out that way…

It may sound interesting on paper but this movie keeps finding ways to disappoint.  I don’t know what my biggest criticism is so I’ll just list them in a random order.  To start with, it’s very predictable.  You always know what’s going to happen next and despite the nature of the material, it’s surprising to see how unadventurous the screenplay is.

Whilst we’re talking about the script, it takes itself too seriously.  There are some mildly amusing jokes in the first half-hour but after that, they dry up quickly.  Why weren’t there more funny one-liners?  What was with all the melodrama at the end?  The wrong approach was taken to the subject material.  To quickly comment on the ending – it’s dumb.  No further remarks are necessary.

None of the performances are impressive.  Will Smith is his usual self.  Charlize Theron has a very limited role and it made me wonder why this Academy Award winning actress would take on such a part.

Most of the big blockbuster releases in 2008 have been decent but if there’s one film you should avoid like the plague, it’s Hancock.