Canister X Movie Review #36: Hancock (2008)
Written by Vince Gilligan and Vincent Ngo
Directed by Peter Berg
Runtime 92 min.
4 out of 5
Alcoholic superhero John Hancock (Will Smith) is Los Angeles’s champion. The only problem is as much as the city needs him, he causes so much damage when fighting crime and rescuing others that the city also wishes they were without him. Enter Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), a PR guy who’s just been turned down again after pitching his All Heart logo to different charitable organizations. When Hancock saves Embrey from an oncoming train, Embrey offers to restore Hancock’s image to the public while also giving a nice boost to his own career. When Hancock meets Embrey’s wife, Mary (Charlize Theron), he soon discovers that him and her have a forgotten past, one that’s already altered their future and will do so again unless history repeats itself.
Wow. This is a cool movie and a take on superheroes that’s unique. Though an alcoholic superhero is nothing new (Tony Stark aka Iron Man is a drunk), making a guy who’s like Superman an alcoholic is, and seeing the ramifications of that play out is something this superhero fan was excited to see. Not only that, but you got to see what an inebriated superhero looks like as he uses his abilities. The haphazard way Hancock flies shows one of the dangers of such raw power if it’s not under restraint.
The mythology brought forth in this tale is well done and turns the superhero notion on its head, bringing in the idea of a race of immortals that had once taken the place as gods or angels throughout history. The fact that these superhumans were created in pairs, and that if they chose to stay together they would live a normal life as normal humans and later die, added a level of tragedy to this film that was welcome though tugged at the heartstrings. Sort of that idea of “what would you give up for the one you love?” And in this case superpowers if you chose to be with them. It also seems that these super pairs have a genuine love for each other so to forego that is a great sacrifice indeed and was something exemplified in this flick.
Never thought I’d want to see Will Smith as a superhero. Still have memories of him as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air running through my head, but the reality is Will Smith is an incredibly talented actor and while he has used his default funny guy now and then, he’s pulled off loads of roles where Fresh Prince is but a faint memory and him as John Hancock in this flick is one of those roles. While I personally prefer actors who’ve portrayed superheroes to only be that one superhero and not take on others, if you put Will in the upcoming Justice League movie as Cyborg, for example, I wouldn’t complain and would certainly look forward to it.
Charlize Theron—I’m a fan. Given the complexity of the Hancock story—namely where Theron’s character is concerned—I really felt bad for her for what she’d given up. She also did a good job of holding her own against Will Smith, who’s a pretty domineering actor in any scene.
Jason Bateman is, well, Jason Bateman, but I like him so having him along for this super ride was super fine by me.
Hancock is an awesome superhero movie that gives a fresh take on the genre as it doesn’t follow the traditional formula. Maybe in the sequel, if they ever make one. I hope they do as I’d like to see where the characters and the mythology go from here.