Rye Silverman brings us his review of the Will Smith superhero vehicle, Hancock.
Once again fulfilling his 4th of July weekend movie quota, Will Smith appears as the titular burned out superhero in Hancock. Previews for months have shown scenes of Smith flying around LA with a bottle of whiskey in his hand, a ratty ski cap on his head, and a case of five o’clock shadow, as he smashes through freeway signs and in general causes more problems than he stops.
This is how Hancock begins, and it does so with gusto and pizazz. In the first act, when we meet Hancock and get a glimpse of what life is like for him, the movie works. Eventually he meets an activist PR guy named Ray, portrayed by Jason Bateman, who wants to improve Hancock’s public image, against the wishes of his wife, Mary (Charlize Theron). The idea of a superhero working on his face with the public is an interesting premise and, for the entirety of the portion of the film that focuses on this goal, shines. The problem is, Hancock accomplishes this task pretty much halfway through, leaving the movie scratching its head about what to do next.
A plot twist is revealed that essentially hijacks the plot and transforms it into an entirely different movie that loses sight of the premise. A clunky, over-expository origin story drags the movie down into its own mythology, and drops off most of the humor that made the opening so much fun. Bateman, who early on manages to walk the line with Smith using his trademark brand of sarcastic dry humor, is left with little to do in the second half, reduced, with one exception, to clutching his son and occasionally putting on a concerned or angry or betrayed face. Smith also loses his luster once Hancock switches from burned out to reformed, which is a shame because as a a result he is unable to carry the remaining portion of the movie as it collapses down around him.