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Hancock (2008)

22 February 2010 by Keeferman No Comment


2008, dir. Peter Berg
92 min., Rated PG-13.
Starring: Big Willie Style, Jason Bateman, Charlize Theron

Review by Keeferman

While HANCOCK might not sound like a superhero name, you quickly get used to it. The primary thing the movie has going for it (beyond Charlize Theron) is that it’s a little different. It’s not “different” in the bizarre or surreal way that movie snobs require when you use the word, but it’s definitely different from most movies of the genre (Superman, Spiderman, Batman, IronMan, HulkMan, etc.).

It starts out at the washed-up end of one superhero’s career. The public doesn’t adore him so much as it endures him. He’s a careless alchoholic drifter, who occasionally fights criminals and always leaves collateral damage his wake. When he happens to wreck the car of an unfulfilled PR guy, the two seem almost fated to form a relationship. Justin Bateman plays the part of the publicist. Charlize Theron plays the part of his cynical wife who obviously doesn’t want Hancock (Will Smith) around as any sort of (bad) role model for their impressionable son.

Things go exactly as you’d expect for awhile. Hancock rehabilitates his reputation and the PR guy resuscitates his career. Criminals are sent to prison and the wife gradually warms up to Hancock with a warning: “Don’t let my husband down.” It’s eventually explained that Hancock, who claims to be older than his years, has no idea of his identity before he became a superpowered amnesiac. He’s finally gotten to the point though where’s comfortable with the fact that he’s the only one of his kind.

Then things go awry as they surely must in any tragedy/comedy. Unfortunately, there are consequences and repercussions to Hancock’s ignorance. The missing “origin story” comes back to haunt both the hero (who’s vulnerabilities are now painfully obvious) and the family who now find themselves uncomfortably close to a walking disaster. There will be blood.

The big ideas are what make this movie. The fact that there’re a few clumsy scenes and unnecessary gags are what trip it up a little. They shoulda played it more serious than funny. Then again, they almost got an unwholesome R-rating as it was. Will Smith is bigger than life (again) and quite believable. Charlize Theron is mostly background (if you can overlook how she almost steals the movie) and she’s real too. Jason Bateman’s role seemed made for him (the normal guy caught in a weird place, just like Arrested Development), but somehow he didn’t quite balance-out the equation. The superhero background and the universe in which it played were very believable too. If you like superheroes fighting badguys, you should be happy. If you think Jason Bateman is funny and Charlize Theron is hot (or vice versa), you should be quite satisfied with that too.

Hancock turned out to be not quite what i was expecting.

Which turned out to be a good thing.

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