Reel Shorts | Hancock

30 06 2008

While actors such as Robert Downey, Jr., Tobey Maguire, Christian Bale and Edward Norton assume roles of established superheroes, leave it to Will Smith to create a franchise of his own. His latest high-flying adventure, “Hancock” is really two stories in one that may be the mega star’s first true film franchise.

For close to ten years, Smith has dominated the fourth of July with one blockbuster after the other. In “Hancock,” Smith plays a rude, crude, unlovable alcoholic superhero with a complex. He doesn’t mind saving people, but has absolutely no regard for property, rules or regulations. As the film opens, he brings three criminals to justice, but literally destroys half of Los Angeles in the process. For a man who serves the people, everyone from city officials to mainstream media reviles him.

While Smith is tearing up the City of Angels, an idealistic media consultant, Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) is getting nowhere trying to convince major corporations to donate sources of their revenue to the poor. Feeling down and dejected, he gets trapped in traffic right in the path of a speeding train. Before you can say “Superman,” Hancock throws his car out of the way and stops the train – with his body. To show his thanks for saving his life, Ray invites Hancock home to have dinner with his wife, Mary (Charlize Theron) and his son.

As Ray has designs to change his image, he gets resistance from Mary who finds the boozing superhero repulsive. She advises Ray not to work with him. “He just needs people to care,” replies Ray. He would like to change Hancock’s image and hatches a clever plan. He convinces the embattled superhero to apologize to the people of Los Angeles and turn himself in. Ray tells Hancock that if he is locked up, if crime goes up then he will be missed and appreciated.

The joy of the story is that situations like trying to confine someone with superpowers are handled with humorous aplomb. As soon as Hancock gets into jail, he encounters many of the men he put there. He just wants to be a model prisoner and be left alone, but his new cellmates would have none of that. His solution – let’s just say he gives a new meaning to “head up your a–!”

Much of Hancock’s attitude and heightened level of sensitivity stems from not knowing his true identity or origin as well as feeling neglected. He woke up 80 years ago, with no memory and a sense of being all alone. Hancock feels isolated because he is the last of his kind and it is that hurt that he tries to fill by building a wall around his heart and drowning it with booze. Only when he connects with Ray that Hancock begins to finally trust someone again.

But his real problems are just beginning. He must battle a series of underdeveloped criminals and other unknown forces that will finally get him to confront just who and what he is.

Seemingly there are subtle eagle imagery sprinkled throughout the film. From the logo on his cap, the necklace he wears to the countless one he draws in jail, they’re everywhere. While never addressed, perhaps it’s symbolic for a super hero that soars (hell, it could be that Smith gets the last laugh as he may be supporting his hometown Philadelphia football team) or the plot point could be examined in the probable superhero sequel, “Hancock: The Black Eagle.”

Smith continues to stretch the boundaries on the types of characters he plays. For one of the industry’s more beloved actors, it took courage for Smith to play such an unlikable and obnoxious character. Countless times in the film’s first act, adults and kids curse out his character and he goes as far teach a young bully a lesson that he’ll never forget. Call me an a–hole, one more time! Of course he does and in the words of Ralph Kramden, bang, zoom, to the moon!

Based on the screenplay, “Tonight, He Comes,” Smith had harbored interest for over six years before he finally brought his superhero to the big screen. Directed by Peter Berg (“The Kingdom“), except for several scenes that drag, he creates an action-packed humorous, yet emotional thrill-ride – and does it all in 92 minutes!

Much like Clint Eastwood’s extreme change of direction and tone in “Million Dollar Baby,” “Hancock’s” final act takes an unexpected turn. Our hero will be challenged and will have tap into a deep inner reservoir to save himself and those around him. The transition humanizes our hero and in the process solidifies “Hancock” as a franchise-in-waiting.

While not a slam-dunk, “Hancock” has a thought-provoking concept that only scratches the surface in this enjoyable popcorn film that will definitely satisfy moviegoers and further solidify the Fourth of July as “Big Willie Day.”

Grade: B+




4 responses

3 07 2008

Hancock looks like interesting spin on the latest craze for superhero movies… at least Will Smith tends to be pretty funny

8 07 2008
christian stories

[…] create a franchise of his own. His latest high-flying adventure, ???Hancock??? is really two storie for AuthorsFeaturing the latest in fine christian family value books and some of the […]

9 07 2008
j j maguire s

[…] create a franchise of his own. His latest high-flying adventure, ???Hancock??? is really two storie McGuire – Main FrameWith J.J.McGuire since 1987 – Completed over 100 milion dollars in … 2003 […]

18 11 2008

Is that thing a boy or a girl?

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