Film: 'Hancock'; Cast: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman; Director: Peter Berg; Ratings: **
The glut of super-hero summer movies coughed up by Hollywood continues with 'Hancock'. Comparisons with the likes of the already released 'Iron Man' and 'The Incredible Hulk' and the yet to be released 'The Dark Knight' and 'Hellboy' are unavoidable; though it is clear that 'Hancock' falls short of all these movies.
The movie is a wasted opportunity. Will Smith, the most dependable Hollywood actor right now, with his last nine movies topping the box office, plays an unlovable superhero who goes through a transformation.
It is a very promising premise, but the writers Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan along with director Peter Berg seem to lose their bearings half way and allow the movie to take one of the most bizarre and wholly boring twists in any Hollywood movie this year.
Not even the talented Oscar winning actress Charlize Theron and the dependable Jason Bateman can rescue or clarify this muddle of a movie.
Smith is Hancock, the superhero with good intentions but bad PR skills and even poorer hygiene. He cannot resist helping anyone in need, but much to the annoyance of the residents of Los Angeles, he does more harm than good. His rescues end up costing the city millions of dollars in damages.
One day Hancock rescues an altruistic but failed PR man Ray who offers to refine him and make him presentable as a superhero. This takes up the first 20 minutes or so of the movie and is actually pretty entertaining. The wheels start coming off when Hancock starts taking an interest in Ray's wife and the movie proceeds to explain this attraction.
Since it is a blockbuster, the movie has the luxury of money and does a good job with the action sequences and special effects. But the true thrills in the movie are the scenes where Hancock is making efforts to be nicer and presentable.
Smith, with his wholesome reputation, asks the audience to stretch their imagination in having to believe his crass attitude early in the movie. Fortunately, those scenes are few and brief and it is not long before he goes about smashing things.
Smith cements his reputation as the most dependable action if not superstar in Hollywood right now. This movie will not have quite the shine as 'Independence Day' or 'I, Robot' and he displays much better acting skills in 'The Pursuit of Happyness' and 'I am Legend'. He was able to surprise us with his acting range.
'Hancock' sadly doesn't even put up any acting challenge before him and that is another reason the movie is a wasted opportunity.
'Hancock' never forgets that it is a summer blockbuster action movie, and in many ways it delivers in the way action movie fans would expect. They will not be disappointed. For those who can put up with a digressing plot line but not at the cost of some action and special effects, 'Hancock' delivers.