Starring Will Smith, Charlize Theron, and Jason Bateman. Rated PG.
It must have been fun coming up with Hancock’s titular tuqued crusader. The drunken, foul-mouthed antisuperhero (played by a charismatic Will Smith, with nary a flash of Hollywood smile) seems to spend much time passed out at L.A. bus stops. When he’s jolted into action—by homeboys spraying bullets around a freeway, for instance—he stops crime but simultaneously destroys trains, cop cars, and numerous other expensive items. Oh, and as evidenced in a scene with some foolish inmates, superstrong, superornery Hancock’s signature retaliatory move (involving heads and asses) would make it uncomfortable to be his prison bitch for long.
Hancock, directed by Peter Berg, has an inspired, sly-comic concept, and for a while it’s entertaining simply watching the unshaven crime fighter fly erratically between skyscrapers and plow through concrete whenever he takes off and lands. He also gets amusing lip from pissed-off L.A. citizenry, which doesn’t improve his mysteriously depressive mood.
This can’t go on, naturally. Sure enough, when Hancock saves do-goody PR guy Ray Embrey (effortlessly funny Jason Bateman) from grievous bodily harm, he gets an invite for both dinner and an image overhaul. Smith and Bateman have comic chemistry, and there’s wit around attitude adjustments, a superhero suit, etcetera, though Hancock remains wrapped in curious melancholy. But this is all secondary to a really big question: what’s up between Embrey’s wife, Mary (Charlize Theron), and the man of steel and booze?
That’s where everything goes to hell in a Hancock. Things happen, things surprise (a lot), things get wildly illogical. Maybe if this film was the first in a series—you don’t get it, but there’s always part two—but when the story stops making sense, even great concepts aren’t invincible.