Hancock isn’t your typical superhero movie, it’d be better to describe the movie as an anti-superhero movie. It makes for an interesting twist on the standard superhero formula, and can also be described as a character study of what defines heroism. Just because someone has super powers doesn’t mean they use it for good, and even when they do it’s how they use their powers that defines their character. Sadly, the movie seems to go in another direction about half way through, losing a concept that could have clearly defined itself as unique. Instead it went the way of the popcorn action flick. Unfortunately a good concept with a great crew gets lost in the shuffle.
John Hancock, played by Will Smith, is a drunken slob that just so happens to have super powers. He has the ability to fly, deflect bullets and super human strength and doesn’t carry himself like your superhero. His flight is sloppy and his landings are awkward and often times destructive. To be fair, he does try helping those in need, but when does so he causes damage that far outweighs the good he does. After repeatedly upsetting the public and local government with is antics he befriends Ray Embry, played by Jason Bateman, a down-on-his-luck PR guy trying to launch a label to benefit people. Grateful for saving his life, Embry takes it upon himself to help Hancock redefine his image and turn him into a superhero the general public will love.
After turning himself into the authorities and undergoing some therapy, Hancock is released from jail and asked to help the police involved in a shootout during a bank robbery. Reluctantly, Hancock agrees and resuces the hostages and helps the police arrest those involved. Here’s where it starts taking a turn for the worse, with the secret of Angel Embry, played by Charlize Theron, coming out. The movie no longer focuses on Hancock and his struggle with finding the right path for him. Instead we’re now plunged into a movie that focuses more on the love story and action. Unfortunately the movie starts suffering for it.
Even though the movie starts suffering, the performances remain top-notch throughout the film. Will Smith plays his role with his usual panache, but with a hint of darkness here. He does a great job portraying the wise cracking Hancock and making him an unlikeable jerk at the same time. Bateman does a great job as a down on his luck guy looking to help someone and not only reverse their fortune, but his as well. Theron does a good job as the wife hiding a secret, a very big secret. It seems that no matter what type of role she’s in she gives it her all, and it shows in her performance.
Overall, the movie isn’t terrible, but it could have been better. It showed a lot of promise within the first half of the film, but took a turn for the worse when the producers decided to add another theme to the movie. It’s unfortunate that the new direction turned out to detract from the initial story. Hancock had the ability to be something truly special, in the end though it fell short. It’s not to say the movie should be avoided, but it’s best to lower your expectations going in. You’ll be far less disappointed.