2008-07-04 15:42
What it's about:

John Hancock (Will Smith) is a depressed, heavy drinking superhero whose earliest memory is waking up in hospital with a serious head injury. He tries desperately to fit into the role of hero, but has become apathetic and more often than not causes devastation when he attempts to help the public. After a chance meeting with PR image consultant Ray (Jason Bateman), Hancock starts to turn his life around with the help of his new friend. Things start to go wrong when he finds himself inexplicably drawn to Ray's wife, Mary (Charlize Theron), who has secrets of her own.

What we thought of it:

Hancock has been one of the more difficult films I've had to review in a long time. It's chock full of good ideas, twists and is slickly made, but it also has one of the weakest, tacked-on conclusions I've ever seen in a Hollywood movie. What makes this so disappointing is that it totally breaks out of the Marvel superhero film mould, and could've been one of the best movies of this year.

Not to say that it's all bad, because up until three quarters of the way in, Hancock verges on brilliant. Coming across like a mix between Billy Bob Thornton from Bad Santa (2004) and Superman with a hangover, Will Smith interprets the titular hero as a complex character within the story. His performance makes 'troubled' Marvel characters like Iron Man and Hulk look positively white bread in comparison - it's an achievement to have such an unlikeable hero, and it makes his journey of self discovery all the more believable.

Jason Bateman is well cast as the perpetually optimistic underdog Ray, trying to reconcile Hancock's constant public humiliations with the heroic figure he wants to project. The rocky friendship between the two creates the basis for the film's message about facing your own demons before trying to save the world and goes to show how dangerous it is to pin your happiness and identity on something you have no control over. This is where Mary (Charlize Theron) comes in, and it's easy to imagine how, with a different focus, Hancock could have been a romantic drama.

One of the film's biggest flaws (barring the end) is that it often flits between genres and tones very quickly without maintaining a consistent atmosphere. The first half is full of frenetic action and low brow physical comedy, which only work with the more introspective moments thanks to the strong acting of Smith and Bateman. Once the story ventures into more serious territory, there's a constant battle between quirky humour, straight-up sentimentality and balls-to-the-wall action that may leave you wondering how you should react.

As I mentioned before, the generic, sugary happy ending spoils the whole thing, and is totally at odds with the rest of the film. It's as if some executive sliced the last five minutes off some Hallmark Channel crap and slapped it on because they thought it might be too dark for your average viewer. Given that you've just seen one of the smartest superhero movies ever, with a sharp script, great acting, and a life affirming message, this kind of shameless commercial pandering is a slap in the face to anyone over the age of 10.

At the halfway mark I was ready to give Hancock four stars, and was thinking that I was lucky enough to be one of the first to see the cleverest, most kick-ass movie of this year. By the end of it I wanted to vomit into my popcorn. If you decide to see it, I would strongly suggest you leave at least ten minutes before it ends, because then you'd have the brilliant viewing experience those Hollywood schmucks stole from me.

- Ivan Sadler

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A depressed, amnesiac, superhero tries to boost his public image and discover the secrets of his past with the help of a PR man and his mysterious wife.

THE BOSS 2008/07/04 7:10 AM
Le Woef 2008/07/04 7:36 AM
spot on Yes the movie was fun, but I have to agree with Ivan (for the first time really)...the ending sucked.....typical hollywood need to have a happy butterfly and daisy ending....
Ivan 2008/07/04 7:51 AM
@ THE BOSS The only people who write comments like yours are either idiots who would be happy watching 90 minutes of car adverts, or sneaky marketing whores who want to boost sales of a weak product.
John 2008/07/04 9:06 AM
Break from reality I enjoyed the film for what it was, a nice break from reality and nothing to be taken seriously. Will plays the role very well, it had some funny moments. It was nice to get away from the "real" world with Zuma, Mad Bob, "What Crises", etc and have some light hearted fun. I did not think for one moment of the film as an Oscar classic but it certainly beats soem of the same old boring and predictable junk that gets churned out with more regularity these days.
Jos 2008/07/04 9:45 AM
Geez Ivan take a pill dude... So someone thought the movie was fun...who are you (ivan) to tell them that they shouldn''t have enjoyed it?? get a life...the world is made up of more than just your opinion, thank god!
Clint 2008/07/04 9:45 AM
Ivancock Hey the last review you wrote about the Hulk was totally off course. I went in thinking the movie would be terrible and it actually was a good "superhero" movie. You suck Ivan, take some tips from people who actually like watching movies for the good stuff and not magnify the bad stuff to be the be all and end all.
Ivan 2008/07/04 10:03 AM
Oh dear It seems I ruffled some feathers by pointing out the terrible ending of this film. All power to you if you enjoyed it, but why attack me simply because I thought the second half sucked? I get paid to do this, and I take it seriously and give plenty of valid reasons for my opinion. If you want to insult me cos you think I'm challenging your manhood by disagreeing with your opinion, then you're an idiot.
Catzbin 2008/07/04 10:36 AM
Come on!! Hey Ivan, I enjoyed your review and your frank opinions which are well thought out and clearly proofed. I love my super-hero movies and will still go and watch Hancock with an open mind - even if it's just to see if I agree or disagree with your comments on it. No need to insult the critic! Gees people, don't be so touchy (Ivan excluded - you have a right!), and GET A LIFE!!
Emile YX? 2008/07/04 10:38 AM
Blackman as Hero ... looses his power when near a white woman ..mmm Interesting play on reality for powerful blackmen and their stronger white women. Then loosing their power when they get close to each other. The fact that its the first time that we see a black superhero and he is a drunk is also interesting. Just wondering why they did not rather give him a Mexican as a side-kick ... ha ha ha ... Americas new "Lone Ranger"... Tonto no go to town ...
Tabs 2008/07/04 10:39 AM
Hank*k I have to agree with Ivan, Hancock is a bad super hero movie, Peter Berg really lost the plot here. Then again i have not seen a good Peter Berg movie, he made a mess out of The Kingdom. The stories on Hancock were incomplete and not followed through at all (A break from reality should not decent into stupidity...John). Jason Bateman, Will and Charlize are great actors, but never have i seen characters in a movie clash so badly that viewers got confused about the story line. Peter Berg should stick to acting, he is a really bad director. He should take lessons from Jon (Director of Iron Man).
Graeme 2008/07/04 11:00 AM
Stick to your guns Ivan, go you good thing. While your review doesn't paint the prettiest picture of optimism in terms of movie stakes, your opinions are well thought out and neatly and honestly expressed. So stick to your guns sir, carry on doing your job as well as you do and remember, the goons that criticise you don't get paid to do it, clearly, based on the logic of some of their arguments! It's not the easiest genre to try and get right so more will fail than succeed. And lighten up people, nobody forces you to read and accept every single movie review out there!
Alan 2008/07/04 11:22 AM
The critic's critics I don't know if you should respond to some of this criticism of your reviews. Are you really surprised that people who write ALL IN CAPS and finish each sentence with three or four punctuation marks don't like your reviews ???!!! These are the slack-jawed nimrods that the schlock Hollywood endings are made for. Why they even read these reviews is a mystery. The reviews that would work for them would say, "number of tit shots: 4, number of explosions: 3, etc.," and then average these into a score. Fight comments that are actually pitched at the level of your reviews.
Red 2008/07/04 12:14 PM
Still gonna see it I like reading reviews, particularly the negatives because it usually brings to light what is or could be wrong with the movie. Ivan, in your face writing, I like it. Still, I don't always base my opinion entirely on one review and will be going to see Hancock, just for the fun of it.
Estelle 2008/07/04 12:47 PM
Lighten up Hancock isn't trying for an Oscar. It isn't trying to be deep and it isn't trying to be Iron Man. It's good, fluffy, light, funny entertainment with amazing special effects. I liked it - even the ending. Hulk 2, or whatever it was called, was perhaps the most boring movie of the year. I didn't not want to see 2 hours of Edward Norton furrowing his brow, turning green, feeling anguished, furrowing his brow, etc etc. I don't know what you expected from Hancock, but I expected a nice no-brainer with decent stunts and effects and was entertained all the way through.
Hester 2008/07/04 2:55 PM
Hancock It seems there is no greater art-crime than a happy ending. Gravitas at all cost, and Bonjour Tristesse forever. Now, that might be the knee-jerk critics' stance of the moment, but I just don't buy it. I love a happy ending, so there. I look for love and joy in the world and find it everywhere, even if all is not perfect. So to Hancock I will go, while those who love looking into the lurking shadows, limp once more into the endless, friendless murk.
Su Quinn 2008/07/04 5:58 PM
Hang this fowl I attended this movie with an open mind and in great anticipation of seeing my idol(ess) Charlize Theron. MONSTER still remains her best movie of all time and forgive me for being obtuse but she seems to have offered no noteworthy performances since. I honestly believe that she portrays a comic superheroine even worse (if possible) Will Smith plays a poor, alcoholic, homeless guy. She is good at roles where she has to portray the victim and he is great at roles where he has to be a fancy dressed, smooth talking MIB. I wonder why this is? Maybe life imitating art? Anyway, this movie lost the plot and I actually dozed off for a few minutes right about the time they were both tumbling through the air and causing havoc, mayhem and destruction in a city they claim to want to save. Weird. If I really was forced by gunpoint to rate this movie it would definitely be a resounding 1 out of a possible hundred.
Karen 2008/07/04 6:38 PM
Very Good I saw the film yesterday with my husband and 2 kids and really don't agree with your review. We really enjoyed the movie, from start to end!! Will Smith was the best person for the role and it was good to see Charlize in a movie that is not so serious as her roles in the past. I would definately recommend it !!!!!
CS 2008/07/05 11:17 AM
You people... NEVER hae something good to say about movies. This isn't an arthouse movie ffs. Seems everything mainstream has something wrong with it to you 24.com movie reviewers. I think i can count all the good reviews you've given movies on one hand. Maybe lower your standards just a bit? Like I said, this isn't arthouse for crying out loud!
Ivan 2008/07/06 7:08 PM
@CS Just because a film is a large commercial release, it doesn't have to be predictable cliched crap. For all those people who complain about the reviewers on this site, please actually read the reviews - there are far more good ones than bad. If you can't handle a review that is different to your opinion, then why do you ever read anything? Anr really, I don't love art movies, I JUST HATE BRAINLESS GENERIC SH*T, which is obviously a crime.
Goodfella 2008/07/06 11:46 PM
A BIG FAT 0 FOR NU METRO @ MONTECASINO I'ts impossible to rate a movie when you can hardly hear a damn thing! Once again the clowns @ Nu Metro have screwed up another viewing experience. No wonder movie attendances are are falling. Stale popcorn, bad service & a screwed up sound system...close your doors you amateurs!!!!
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