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June 2008

by Wilson Morales


Distributor: Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Director: Peter Berg
Screenwriter: Vince Gilligan, Vincent Ngo
Cast: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, Johnny Galecki


There was a time when Will Smith could do no wrong. Everything he does is a hit. When 'Wild Wild West' did well at the box office, despite poor reviews, I knew never to question the power of Smith's appeal. But at the saying goes, 'What goes up, must come down', and after seeing his latest film, 'Hancock', I can say that Smith's invincibilty may come down, for this film is a mess. Not even Smith's charm and personality can save this train wreck.

When we first meet Hancock, he's a bum sleeping on a bench when a robbery takes place. He won't even give a kid the time or day to hear his pleas to prevent the crime from taking place. He shouts out profanities and worse, he's a drunk who reluctantly does his duty, but making a mess while doing so. Meanwhile a public relations consultant named Ray (Jason Bateman) is having problems selling his latest pitch to potential clients. When he sees how much the public loathes Hancock and the chaos he creates when saving lives, Ray decided to help Hancock redo his image. This doesn't bode well with Ray's wife (Theron), who believes Hancock will add more chaos to their failing marriage. While Hancock tries to reinvent himself, his past begins to catch up to him, which spells trouble.

When creating a superhero for the big screen that has nothing to do with comic books, the writers could have up with a story that defies convention, and the beginning parts of the film shows an effort. Besides the usually identity issues that most superheroes have, and whether or not their destiny is controlled by their talent, Hancock just has no clue who he is and he doesn't care. Who wants to see a film where the audience isn't rooting for the hero? The use of profanities is a little over the top for a film that's supposed to be family friendly.

In a summer where we have seen 'Iron Man', 'The Hulk' do it right and the upcoming 'The Dark Knight' already generating great buzz, 'Hancock' is no where in this league. Smith, Bateman, and Theron provide decent performance, although Smith goes too much displaying goofness. One can assume given the length of time (90 minutes with credits) that lots of character development was left in the editing room and that producers wanted a simple, action, romantic film. Also most villians in these superhero films have a sense of bravado when going up against a superhero. Instead we have individuals who come from nowhere and don't have the skills to challenge Hancock and we're supposed to believe that they would be worthy of these roles.

At the end of day when it comes to superhero films, the hero is supposed to know if his talent controls his fate, and with 'Hancock', we're left wondering where's the other half of the film that would us an answer.