With every Will Smith movie comes a certain level of expectation, as the man essentially embodies the career Tom Cruise had ten years ago. As the biggest movie star on the planet, he must tread the line between commercial and artistically fulfilling, whilst also not disappointing his core audience. Hancock is a movie that does both admirably, but doesn't gel quite well enough to rank as a home run. Hancock's plot sees Big Willy play the titular alcoholic Superhero, who seems to do just as much bad as good when rescuing folk. When he saves the life of a kind-hearted PR agent (Bateman), he vows to make him more likeable in the eyes of the judgemental public. Those who have seen the trailer won't be surprised to learn that there is no real villain here; sure, people are out to get him - but no one who could really hurt him. It's not your conventional 'bad guy versus good guy' flick, or even a slant on it; it's a film about a drunken superhero who wants to figure out who he is. While this is all very well done, the tone can be drastically uneven and a twist comes out of nowhere, only to be explained away with a couple of lines of dialogue. The script has many problems, too - the main one being an overreliance on coincidence that is hard to swallow at times. There are still moments of real brilliance though, and it's Hancock's attitude problem that's the reason for most of them, as Smith's sharp comic timing shows little sign of blunting. Peter Berg, too, is a director still firmly in the mould of Michael Mann (who produces and makes an amusing cameo), meaning he likes his handheld camera and knows exactly where to put it (usually on an extreme close-up of Smith at a particularly ponderous moment.) Theron is fine, if untested, while Bateman is excellent in a beefed-up supporting role. It has many flaws, and some will find them distracting; but for this reviewer, the pros outweighed the cons and delivered a film that while far from perfect, still hit all the right chords. Stick around after the credits for the best line in the movie.
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