Ken's Review: Hancock - Loses Its Power in the Second Half
by Ken Evans
July 4, 2008
It isn't very often that I'm completely split over a movie, but Hancock has managed to put me in that exact position. Usually a film is just good, just bad or average with good and bad scenes mixed together throughout the movie. What completely separates Hancock from other movies is that the first half is great and quite enjoyable; I liked just about every part. Then it passes the midway point and goes crashing down into a muddled, confusing and illogical mess. I can't think of the last movie that I could literally split down the middle and really enjoy one part while totally hating the other. Not exactly the 4th of July weekend movie I was hoping for.
John Hancock (Will Smith) is a depressed, drunk and irresponsible superhero living in Los Angeles who has amnesia. Protecting the city and its inhabitants from evil doers isn't exactly his top priority. Even when he is trying to do good, he ends up destroying property and endangering the same people he is supposed to protect. Although he brings many criminals to justice, the citizens of Los Angeles call him a menace to the city. Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) sees something in Hancock and offers his services in public relations to try and clean up Hancock's image. In the process, and with the help of Ray and his wife Mary (Charlize Theron), Hancock ends up learning who he is and why he acts the way he does.
I hope that plot summary doesn't give away anything, but it exactly sums up what happens. Basically it starts with a great concept and something we haven't seen before in a superhero movie character besides maybe Wolverine. Hancock is Wolverine without the "cool" factor and a thousand times more selfish. Then Ray Embrey gets a hold of him and starts turning him around. He cleans him up, teaches him what people expect from him, and even creates an outfit for him to wear. Then you see the new and improved Hancock in action and it was really cool! The whole idea of a strung-out superhero going through rehab captured my attention and had my excitement building for the first 45 minutes. Why is he so hard on himself? Why doesn't he care? How did he get his powers? These are the questions I was asking in my head and I was truly excited to get the answers.
Then the second half started and it all came crashing down. From there on out there was nothing I liked. I got the answers to my questions, but not the ones I would have expected or wanted to hear. The answers come out of left field and are completely ridiculous, even for a superhero movie. The first section of the last half is like watching Hancock talk through his problems with a shrink. Doesn't exactly sound exciting and surprise - it's not. The second section of the last half is completely illogical. There is a long, drawn-out scene with Hancock in the hospital where he goes in and out of having his powers. Supposedly, this has to do with his proximity to someone else in the hospital but doesn't make sense because he never had problems with his powers any other time he was around that person. You can try and argue that losing his powers was a slow process, but as soon as he starts running away he gains them back. There also was never a villain throughout it all! It was a movie with no climax and no reasoning other than to make us watch as Hancock sorts through his personal issues.
In spite of the story, the cast did a pretty good job. I'm already a Will Smith fan and this didn't hurt my appreciation for what he can bring to a movie. He has that unique ability to play funny and light hearted and switch it into serious and heartfelt in a moment's notice. Jason Bateman was great as well! He was perfect for the role of a guy wanting to honestly change the world. I love him in everything and can't wait for an Arrested Development movie. I have to admit that when I first saw Charlize Theron in 2 Days in the Valley, I didn't ever expect to see her again. She was good in Hancock, but nothing extraordinary.
As much as I enjoyed the first half of the film, the second half completely destroyed the experience I had at the beginning. I would like to say that I could only recommend seeing this after it comes out on DVD, but I know that a lot of people will enjoy it in theaters anyway. They will be able to get past the major flaws and ridiculousness of the second half. Not to mention, it's basically the only film getting released this 4th of July weekend, besides Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, which I know nothing about. Hancock is a mess of a film and definitely the worst 4th of July release since Wild Wild West.