The concept of an anti-hero has been around for some time, but Hancock takes it to a new level, giving rise to the anti-super hero. Will Smith plays the eponymous role of Hancock who is basically a transient with super strength and speed and the ability to fly. He’s also impervious to injury and never ages. It sounds like a pretty good deal, but unfortunately Hancock feels lonely, being one-of-a-kind, which has driven him to drink and go on a path of self-destruction. I imagine that must just lead to more frustration since Hancock is indestructible.
Nevertheless, Hancock is compelled to do good, albeit not in the most appropriate ways. He spikes cars on the Capitol Records building, throws beached whales back into the ocean, crushing a sailboat in the process, and other good-intentioned, yet destructive acts. As such, the populous hates Hancock. Enter Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), PR Consultant who can’t seem to sell his latest campaign. He wants to revitalize Hancock’s image and Hancock seems to have a thing for Ray’s wife (Charlize Theron), so the two join forces.
And if the film had just stuck with more of a dramatic theme and developed the characters more, I’d have no complaints with movie. Regrettably, the story takes an unexpected turn and loses the momentum in exposition, trying to adjust the audience to the new reality. In the end, the movie becomes something else and the action-packed finale feels contrived. Plus, the feel-good ending that wraps up a little too neatly smacks of trying too hard to please test audiences.
Fortunately, the principal roles are all played convincingly in the beginning before we know too much about everyone. Will Smith does a fabulous job of acting drunk and even manages that morning congestion sound in his throat when he speaks. Jason Bateman is rock-solid as a character that basically has to play another character within the film as he tries to pitch his campaign idea with unwavering confidence and then switch back to his mild-mannered father figure. Lastly, Charlize Theron’s natural acting is as smooth as ever here, even when the scenes get a little campy. The problem arises when we find out that certain characters are actually much older than they really are. Much older. Yet, they behave as you would expect people to behave who look their age. It just would have been nice to see a bit more Wisdom of the Ages revealed through their acting, rather than regular 30-somethings dealing with everyday minutiae.
The visual effects are spotty, ranging from well-done to obviously fake. Overall, nothing looks bad enough to really break your willing suspension of disbelief. The best looking effect throughout the film is when Hancock stops a train with his body, derailing it. I just wish the story didn’t jump the tracks too.