Hancock (2008) **1/2*

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 1hr 32min
Director: Peter Berg
Stars: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman
Genre: Drama
Language: English

Flying High (Drunk and Sober)

In a Nutshell

Plot

Straight as an Arrow
Twisty

Sound Quality

Easy to Hear
Incomprehensible

Who's That?

Few Main Characters
Lots

Naughty Words

Mild
Foul

Naked people

None
Lots

Violence

Tame
Bloody

An alcoholic, ragged superhero doing as much damage as good: does that sound like a plot for a good movie to you?

OK, how about an alcoholic superhero who is persuaded to see the errors of his way by sobering up, spending some time in jail and earning the public’s approval at last by helping the police bring a brutally destructive bank robbery to an end?

Yes, that definitely works, especially if the superhero, Will Smith, and the man who turned him from a super-drunk into a super person is the comically talented Jason Bateman.

The two meet when Smith, as John Hancock, saves Bateman from being crushed by an approaching train as his car is blocked by other traffic at a railroad crossing. The rescue, however, is carried out in the early Hancock way: Bateman walks away, but in the process Hancock derails the train and flips Bateman’s car over and angers a gathering mob.

Bateman, a struggling PR man, sees something in Hancock, however, that he’s convinced his talents can help.

But there’s a third party in the plot, and that’s where things take a giant twist.

Up to now we’ve witnessed an unshaven drunk who sleeps on a Los Angeles street bench, can zoom off into the sky and help when needed, but only at a big cost in collateral damage: smashing into buildings and turning the street where he lands and takes off into a pile of rubble.

Then Mr. Superdrunk, after Bateman’s makeover, learns to be polite, remembers to praise the police for their work (even if he doesn’t really mean it), dons a clean black leather costume and even takes the trouble to shave.

Into the mix, however, comes Charlize Theron, known for her very attractive looks and her acting talents, although those talents, as in a number of her movies, are not put to the best use.

When Smith and Theron first meet one senses there is something in the air. Things are not really spelled out, however, until about halfway into the movie, and to reveal the somewhat bizarre details would spoil things completely.

But the things that follow the plot shift take some of the fun out of the film, while adding an emotional content that drags things to a level of physical pain and suffering.

Enough to say that at this point things happen quickly, with a surprise here and a surprise there, leading to a pretty lame ending.

The crashing and zooming does wear a bit thin, and the music is clamorous at times. But Smith, an incomparable actor, plays his part well. And although “Hancock” is not a barrel of laughs, it’s a superhero film with a twist. Make that twists.

A lifelong journalist, Terence Neilan started his career in his home country, England, and then moved to New York in 1970. After a couple of years as an editor at The New York Post, he moved to The New York Times, where he worked as an editor and Website reporter for 29 years, retiring in 2005.

Comments

Charisto said on December 5, 2012

 

Shannon when the turn happened, my imdmeiate thought was Holy crap here’s what’s going to make me LOVE this movie .I wouldn’t count myself as a hater, and part of the backlash. I just didn’t like the final payoff enough to give the whole flick a thumb’s up.Be proud of being in the minority! I’m still in the minority for THE HAPPENING and proud of it!!

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