Hancock (Will Smith) is an alcoholic superhero with a penchant for cutting a wide swath of destruction, even as he’s helping people. The citizens of Los Angeles finally get sick of footing the multi-million dollar bill to clean up after him and begin to turn on their formerly beloved savior. Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), a public relations expert, steps forward to help Hancock rehabilitate his image, with life changing results for all.[Review contains spoilers.]
What you need to know is that Will Smith plays a great drunk. Hancock opens to a wild freeway shoot out, juxtaposed with our superhero passed out on a park bench clutching a bottle of booze. As he dozes, a young boy tries to alert him to the major crime spree that’s taking place. Hancock hassles him for waking him up; the boy shakes his head in disgust and calls Hancock an asshole. That’s your first clue: this ain’t no Disney flick.
It’s this dissolute, downtrodden, angry, irresponsible version of Will Smith’s character that makes this film so fun (ironically). We’ve seen the powerful, clean-cut superhero a million times before – and, while that version is great (Superman, I’m waiting for you) – the alcoholic with superhuman powers who saves people simply because he can (versus wanting to) is a great twist.
Now that’s what I call a bender!
Kudos to the director and screenwriter for keeping up this premise for the majority of the film. Yes, Ray does succeed in swaying public opinion in Hancock’s favor (after a stint in jail); but Will’s character retains that gristle and confusion over the necessities of niceties to the end.
Hancock needs to be dark, given that Ray provides more than enough earnest sweetness to saccharine up the whole movie. Lord knows I love me some Jason Bateman, but he does seem to play the role of “good-natured everyman” in nearly all of the projects he chooses.
Ray Embrey is not only a naïve, well-intentioned PR agent (he lobbies corporations to give their best-selling products away for free in exchange for a heart symbol so consumers know that they’re do-gooders. He’s not successful with this particular initiative, needless to say.); he’s also a happily married father. Did I mention that his wife happens to be played by Charlize Theron? No wonder he’s in such a good mood all the time!
If giving excellent side-eye is a superpower, this super-hottie has a lock on it.
Charlize’s character is both the best and worst thing about the movie, though it’s not her fault. As Mary Embrey, she’s the sweet soccer mom who saved Ray from the desolate life of raising his child alone. (Yep, Ray was a widower whose first wife died in childbirth. He was apparently doomed to walk the planet alone until he met Mary at the grocery store.) But Mary is more than she’s cracked up to be and her hand is finally forced to reveal her own tragic past when Ray takes on Hancock as a client.
Unfortunately it is Mary’s mysterious connection to Hancock that causes the film to go awry. It turns out Mary is also a superhero who was created to be Hancock’s soul mate. They are immortal and have roamed the world together for centuries. But, for whatever reason, destructive forces are always chasing them and when they’re together they start to lose their powers. Say what?
Mary’s exposition into their past, and why she chose to leave him, gets so overwrought and sappy, even as they’re sparring, that the viewer is left wondering where in the hell this left turn came from. In addition, their back-story has bigger holes than the Grand Canyon. It’s a complete plot failure in the middle of an otherwise solid film.
Hancock can’t decide if it wants to be a comedy, drama or action film. It’s a hell of a lot of fun (for the most part) and definitely worth a watch, but it’s still a bumpy road.
Take a Drink: every time Hancock does!
Take a Drink: every time someone calls Hancock an asshole.
Take a Drink: every time you find yourself nodding to a song – this flick has a great soundtrack!
Take a Drink: every time Hancock destroys something.
Do a Shot: for Charlize and her utter hotness.