The notion that a superhero might not really want to be a super hero is great. The idea that a man of steel might be apathetic and down on his luck is pretty interesting. And the concept that this caped crusader might just want to be left alone adds a gritty reality to the bubble gum world that many super heroes thrive in.
So was Hancock good?
This film had a lot of potential in the concept alone. The first half of this film is very entertaining. The second half, well, might leave viewers as apathetic as the protagonist on screen.
Hancock (Will Smith) doesn't know where he came from. He can't remember how he got his powers. He doesn't even know his real name. He has special powers like superhuman strength, the ability to fly and never age. Society has shunned him after attempt after attempt to do good have all ended in massive destruction. Hancock doesn't know how to live.
All he knows is that he's different and alone. That is until he saves the life of a bleeding heart PR representative Ray Embry (Jason Bateman).
Ray decides that Hancock means well, he just needs a little help, and after sort of adopting him like a stray dog, Hancock begins to see the need to clean up his act. The first step in doing so is going to prison to pay for all the damage he's created over the years.
While behind bars, society's criminals are free to run rampant, and the city's mayor calls for help. Enter the new Hancock.
And this is about where the film takes a turn for the worse. SPOILER ALERT!
It turns out that Hancock was created in a superior race of beings meant to help protect and serve mankind. This race was built in twos, each having a mate. When those two were together, they could grow old together and die, but when they were apart they were invincible. Hancock's mate is Ray's wife Mary (Charlize Theron).
And this is where they lose me. I enjoy the concept. I like the idea that crime itself, rather than a larger than life villain, is the big enemy. I like the idea of a humble PR representative helping a super hero. What I don't like is that Ray settles down with his wife, Mary, knowing that she loves and is destined to be with Hancock. They can't be together or they die, so Ray is second fiddle.
I don't know any men or women who would be ok with this.
The film ends with all being right in the world. Hancock fights crime. Mary and ray settle down to a quiet suburban life. I'm missing something here. With a more realistic ending, I think I could have been on board with this film. But as it stands, I couldn't recommend it. The first half had my attention, but the second half's story was so jarring that it seemed like a completely different film.
If you have Netflix, put it on your queue. Otherwise... Wait for The Dark Knight.
Josh Gloer, Movie Correspondent
You can find Josh's column One Harsh Critic, published every other Sunday. Tuesday, Wednesday... (Who can tell at this point?) at http://oneharshcritic.gather.com.
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