Stuck in the Cineplex with Hancock
The initial premise of the film has its charm. A slacker, alcoholic superhero saves people from villains and trains, but he’s too lazy and drunk to do much without causing massive collateral damage to
As a useless punk, Hancock makes for a refreshingly ambivalent role for Will Smith after the heroics of I Am Legend, but as a narrative, “Hancock” sells out many of its premises. Hancock saves the life of a PR man Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman, fresh from Juno), who, in turn persuades Hancock to reform his ways, first by going to jail for all of the damage he has caused. There, Hancock waits for the call, like Batman, from the LA police commissioner to save LA from criminals. While in prison, Hancock undergoes group therapy with a bunch of convicts, and still I wondered--after the psychobabble of Get Smart and The Love Guru--does
Given film’s ramshackle look, awkward handheld shots, and jerky editing, all of the filmmakers seem infected with the same slacker spirit as its hero. I couldn’t believe that Michael Mann co-produced Hancock, since it has none of his signature visual flair, nor does Hancock much resemble The Kingdom, which shares the same director, Peter Berg. Berg did an excellent job playing the dip mercilessly exploited by Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction. I’m still waiting for one of his directed films to attain that movie’s high level of craft.
It also took me awhile to realize, with dismay, that Charlize Theron plays Embrey’s wife Mary. When she starts to dominate the storyline for no apparent reason, and the cheap CGI effects of superhero stunts blur the screen to grey murk, I found myself checking my watch at five minute intervals. A bleak feeling of claustrophobia set in. Two guys were bothering me by talking in the nearly empty theater, but by the last half hour (by my watch), I wished they would speak louder to drown out the film.