Science fiction and fantasy                                            


directed by Peter Berg

Hancock poster  
Incompetent, scruffy and drunk, John Hancock (Will Smith) is a man with a lax attitude and a serious image problem. He also has superpowers. The local law enforcement and emergency services regard him as more of a liability than an asset, and his "rescues" tend to cost more money and cause more mayhem than the crimes, accidents and disasters he's supposed to be preventing.

Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) is a PR consultant who wants to change the world for the better with his scheme to encourage corporations to give more to charity. He's not having much success. For some reason companies aren't enthusiastic about the concept of giving lots of stuff away for free.

When Hancock helps Ray out of a bad situation he's grateful enough to invite him home. Ray soon realises that this is an opportunity to turn both of their lives around, by offering to improve Hancock's public image. The superhero proves to be a tough nut to crack, unwilling to change and distrustful of other people. He's laconic, crude, and he tends to come across as unfriendly. Ray gets Hancock back on track by persuading him to change his ways, and even tries to get him to show some respect for the rule of law by doing some time behind bars.

The trouble is, Ray's wife Mary (Charlize Theron) appears to distrust Hancock intensely and wants him out of their lives. Yet the feeling doesn't seem to be mutual, and Hancock finds himself drawn to her.

It makes a pleasant change to watch a superhero film that has been written for the medium rather than adapted from a comic. It doesn't suffer from the problems of over-compressed plotting or unfortunate costumes that you often see in this genre. Writers Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan have done a good job with the dialogue, coming up with snappy lines that Will Smith delivers in superb deadpan style.

We aren't told an awful lot about Hancock's origins, or what kind of creature he is, although there are some cursory details. So there's a little ambiguity about whether or not there's scope for a sequel of any kind. The story stands very well on its own, and doesn't really need a follow-up, but it does leave you wondering about the background story.

Almost inevitably, Hancock has a full complement of big-budget effects, such as the whale-flinging and Hancock flying into buildings and causing huge amounts of destruction. It's fairly violent for a film that only received a 12A rating for its theatrical release in the UK. On the whole though the action is more slapstick than brutal. It's a feelgood movie, even verging on sentimental in parts, with just enough heroic moments to be uplifting yet not melodramatic. Hancock may be a shambles as a superhero, but there's nothing messy or half-cocked about this film.

Film Details

Year: 2008

Categories: Films


Classification: 12

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson