Director: Peter Berg
Screenwriters: Vincent Ngo, Vince Gilligan
Starring: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman,
To describe Hancock? Superman on the way to mystery men, just past Arrested Development. That's how I'd describe the film in one sentence fragmented line. To say I enjoyed it? Yes. In one word. Should I say any more? Not really but fuck you as i have a laptop and the Internet.
Hancock is the story of John Hancock (Smith) a down and out, drunken superhero who "saves the world" in a way that The DC comic hero would state as "a curveball". He causes more damage than he should, he's got more than a few lawsuits up his sleeve and he is hated by the city he lives in (Los Angeles). His life however, takes an unexpected turn when he saves the life of an upbeat PR specialist (Batemen) who wishes to change the world. Hancock's world is suddenly on the up and people are beginning to like him. However why is The PR's wife (Theron) looking at him in that way?
Hancock starts well and runs at a swift pace and we are entered into his world extremely quickly. Hancock's script (competently written by little knowns Ngo and Gillian) lack of in depth origin story works as Berg direction tells us everything we need to know about our hero quickly, with no need to sidetrack us. As much as i love Spiderman, Batman et all, it's nice to see a hero film grab you from the start as Hancock does.
But what also hooked me in was how Berg decided to shoot the film with tight close ups, handheld cameras. His usage of space makes Hancock his own. The film doesn't look like just another super hero film. It's unbelievable that other directors haven't taken this approach with some of the other movies recently released. It's a film that actually feel like we invade a hero's personal space. Imagine how the Fortress of solitude would feel if directors took heed of what Berg does.
The film isn't without it's humor, It's funny to watch how others react around Hancock with everyone knowing that one wrong word could get you thrown into the stratoshpere (again watch the movie). The screenplay also has more than enough throwback lines that can bring a smile to ones face. The humor isn't a subtle but it's smart enough (I swear one character's hooked hand is a reference to a certain actors ill fated sitcom).
But while the story runs at it's breezy pace it's not without it's fault. The story suffers from one of the most predictable plot moments I've seen in a long time. Not only it's predictable but it knocks the film's enjoyment a notch mostly because the story/character dynamic changes so drastically but also because even a two year old can see it coming off a mile away. The second half alters the film from a funny, different and interesting look at a superhero to....an origin story. The film decides to take us back to square one and with that the film suddenly turns into a chance of a franchise. The film slowly starts to lose sight in what made it stand out in the first place. Big shame.
It's not all bad however. Hancock brings about some interesting commentary about race (if you REALLY want to read into it). Smith's role as the lead is more important than you might think. He is the most original black super hero (not named white hatin' coon) I've seen in a long time (if not the first). While I'd like to say more about this it would spoil aspects of the film to those who may watch the film one day.
The acting within the film is smart and tidy, Theron's role isn't too thankless, Bateman puts himself back into the Bluth suit for the good natured PR and as for Smith? Role's like this are his bread and butter. The shift in power between Smith and Tom Cruise isn't just in Cruise's rants (religious and otherwise) but because Smith is more accessible then Cruise ever was. This ties in with what I wish to say about race...but maybe for another time when everyone's seen the movie eh?