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Hancock - Review

Will Smith in Hancock

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

AS GOOD as the recent crop of superhero movies led by Iron Man have been they do still stick to an established formula. It’s refreshing, therefore, to find a variation on the theme that has fun mixing things up a bit.

Will Smith’s Hancock is exactly that kind of film, even though it’s not completely successful in doing so. In terms of tone, the film is uneven, while some of the effects-heavy sequences late on feel unnecessary and fail to measure up to the very highest standards.

Hancock (Will Smith) is a superhero with a huge image problem. A hopeless loner and drunk, he constantly finds himself angering the public because of the collateral damage he creates with each heroic endeavour.

When he comes to the aid of Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), an eternally optimistic image consultant, he’s offered the chance of a makeover and reluctantly agrees to take the steps necessary to reform his public standing.

But just as Hancock begins to get things right he’s surprised to meet resistance from Ray’s beautiful wife, Mary (Charlize Theron), and then antagonizes a particularly vicious criminal named Red (Eddie Marsan).

Peter Berg’s film begins very well, though, and early scenes involving Smith’s sulky superhero and his attempts to try and improve his attitude are genuinely entertaining. A freeway chase that opens the film is both spectacular and funny, while a YouTube medley of Hancock’s worst superhero moments is capped with a laugh-out loud moment involving a beached whale.

But once Hancock gets it together, the film is less effective and more prone to playing things to formula. A big surprise involving Charlize Theron’s character is initially intriguing but then threatens to take the film into more mawkish territory, while Eddie Marsan’s Lex Luthor substitute, Red, isn’t afforded enough time to feel like a viable threat to Hancock and feels like a bit of an after-thought.

The final sequence inside a hospital is well handled but takes the film into very dark territory that’s not entirely in keeping with what’s come before. It may well catch younger viewers off-guard.

But in spite of such flaws Hancock still boasts plenty of appeal. Rather like its central performer, it’s charismatic, moody but genuinely keen to impress… and it boasts a genuine relish for carnage. What more do you expect from a summer blockbuster?

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 90mins
UK Release Date: July 2, 2008