Hancock flies early on but eventually crashes and burns
What if Superman was an angry, depressed, homeless drunk who only saved people when he felt like it and caused millions of dollars in damage when doing so. That’s the basic setup of Columbia Pictures new summer tent pole film, HANCOCK, which stars box-office superstar Will Smith. Based on an edgy novel titled Tonight He Comes, director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) does a pretty good job setting things in motion with a nifty action sequence to start things off. Smith also has fun with the character right off the bat throwing out some very funny one liners and establishing that his popularity rating is not where it should be. Not long into the story Hancock meets up with a PR and damage control specialist (Jason Bateman) who convinces him to clean up his image.
This ultimately leads to the character’s redemption, although,for me, this redemption comes a little too easy. When sent to prison as part of his rehab, Hancock turns a catch phrase into a reality and it’s one of the funniest sight gags you will ever see. In fact it’s not just funny, it’s bring down the house funny. This is the scene that hints at the novel’s darker feel.
It’s also fun to watch Hancock start to turn over a new leaf with a scene when he’s enlisted by the police to help with a hostage situation at a nearby bank. At this point in the film, I wouldn’t say I was blown away but I was certainly entertained. So what goes wrong? Well, the movie’s third act takes off in a new direction. Instead of setting up a strong adversary for Hancock to face off against, the story takes a detrimental twist involving the Charlize Theoron character (she plays Bateman’s wife) that puts the story into My Super-Ex Girlfriend territory. It really sinks the entire movie, and the fun and goodwill established in the first hour, is sucked right out of the entire picture.
Amidst reports of re-shoots and edits to get a PG-13 rating (In early cuts of the film submitted to the MPAA it was slapped it with an R) it’s clear that no one involved had a clear vision of what they wanted the final product to be. The shear stupidity of the last thirty-five minutes is tremendously disappointing. I don’t know how much overall influence the shirts and ties at Sony had with the final cut but it’s clear to me it had to be significant. Overall, Hancock is a case of what could have been verses what is; and what is, left me pretty disappointed.
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