Hancock (2008)

15 Apr


Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Hancock” is an unusual superhero movie. Will Smith plays the title character John Hancock, who happens to have powers beyond belief and never grows old. I guess you could call him a superhero, but the trouble is that he has a really bad attitude, he’s an alcoholic, and he trashes everything surrounding him when he’s forced to stop trouble. It’s a nice premise. I mean, not all superheroes are nice guys, right? And he doesn’t even have a secret identity.

This isn’t a great movie, but Will Smith pulls it off with his usual attitude that makes all of his movies watchable.

Jason Bateman plays a public-relations agent/family man named Ray. He has a wife named Mary (Charlize Theron) and a young son. Hancock saves his life when he’s almost run down by a train (but also trashes his car and derails the train in the process). Ray owes him and decides to help him clean up his act. He takes him home; his son likes him, but Mary seems to know him from long ago, and keeps giving him a look, which doesn’t make this a spoiler. Hancock spends a few weeks in prison and Ray visits from time to time to counsel him and help him.

Soon enough, Hancock becomes a better man and tries not to trash the place when he foils a robbery when he’s released. However, things do not go so well for him afterwards. That’s just the first half of “Hancock.” There’s a big twist in the second half that makes us go “What?! Whoa!”

(I saw this movie in a theater with my friends and that was my real reaction to the twist.)

Will Smith is great in this role as the superhero with a hangover. He has this attitude and charisma that makes us laugh or care. From comedic roles in his infamous TV series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to tough guy roles in “Men in Black” to dramatic Oscar-nominated roles in “The Pursuit of Happyness,” Smith is a powerhouse performer and doesn’t seem to work hard to make his movies hits.

Also, Jason Bateman is quite good and relaxed as the nice guy who attempts to change Hancock. Charlize Theron is quite effective as Mary. She has nice moments as the wife who seems to have a history with Hancock. The only trouble with her character is we know that she has a history when we first see her on screen with Hancock.

The action scenes are big-budget and are spent as much time as the ones in “Spider-Man” or “Batman.” Most of Hancock’s antics, such as when he’s flying through the air and placing a car on top of a building (with people in it), are funny but most of them are also heartless. But luckily, director Peter Berg knows that the audience doesn’t care about him flying through the air throughout the whole running time. So, he puts in those moments when Ray is counseling Hancock and has a little secret and back story behind Hancock. Like I said, this isn’t a great movie but Will Smith makes it work for me.

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