Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Will Smith, Jason Bateman, Charlize Theron
I’ve watched this film a few times before and always loved it. Admittedly, I love just about anything superhero related, and ‘Hancock’ offers something a little bit different, something new to the genre. The film gets a pretty bad press from critics, and I can’t for the life of me work out why. Time to watch it again and try to figure it out.
Meet John Hancock (Will Smith), a man who, to the best of his knowledge, woke up from a coma with superhuman powers. Sometimes, Hancock uses these powers to save the day, albeit with a trail of destruction behind him. Sometimes, he quite simply can’t be bothered, depends what mood you catch him in. When he saves the life of Ray (Jason Bateman), he inadvertently gains a friend who is determined to turn Hancock into a true superhero. Better convince that wife of yours first though, Ray.
This is Will Smith at his best for me. For once, he’s not just trying to be the nice guy or the cool guy. Not that Hancock isn’t cool, but this is a different kind of likeability, with his anti-hero attitude and socially awkward nature. Jason Bateman once again takes on the role of the everyman, with a much more ordinary likeability, a safe bet compared to the love him or hate him Hancock. In the time between my last viewing of this film however, I did kinda forget that Bateman was in it, which isn’t really a good sign. Charlize Theron plays Ray’s wife, Mary, and proves that she’s always been a bit of a badass (see ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ for Theron at her badass best). She is fantastic in this, as she is with everything she does, producing a surprisingly powerful and emotive performance which shines in a relatively light-hearted flick.
So what is the problem? The film is well shot, has an original story, engaging dialogue and moments of humour, delivered by great actors and great characters. Beats me. The concept of it all is really interesting and fresh, especially in the current climate of supposed superhero ‘overkill’. If you’re sick of the same old superheroes doing their old tricks, what better way to escape this than watching an alcoholic, violent, loner of a superhuman tear up the city and put it back together again? As with most superhero movies, there is a great balance of action, drama and a touch of humour; enough to rival the brilliance of ‘The Avengers’ for sure.
To put it simply, ‘Hancock’ is just a really fun film to watch. I always forget just how good it actually is, which may be part of the issues, but the whole thing is perfectly constructed and relentlessly entertaining. Marvel Studios should take a look at this and see where they are going wrong, because director Peter Berg got everything right with this one. Just one problem, where is the sequel? We want more Hancock! The ever trusty IMDb does have a ‘Hancock 2’ on its database, but all we have thus far are the rumours that Jaden Smith may take over from his dad, and that Beyoncé might have a cameo role. On second thoughts, keep your sequel.