My friend and I walked out of Hancock with two very different opinions of the film. As we discussed it, we decided that he was being too negative and I was being too positive. Be that as it may, we both thought the movie was average. So, if we ended up finding middle ground, maybe we actually started out with a completely different take on the movie. And so too, I think, did the makers of Hancock.
Originally titled Tonight, He Comes, the film went through quite a few different directors’ hands including Jonathon Mostow (Terminator 3), Michael Mann and Gabriele Muccino before Peter Berg got the job. The film feels like a good stew with too many chefs as the tone and dialogue changes constantly throughout the movie, so that you’re never quite sure what they are trying to achieve, but you just know they’re missing it. Even though Akiva Goldsman is not credited as a writer the film has his trademarks all over it. Although they sometimes work splendidly like in
The movie’s redeeming quality, saving it from being completely unwatchable, is the performance of the three leads Will Smith, Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman. I’ve been a Will Smith fan since the first Fresh Prince album in 1988. While I hold him in the highest regard, he is not above critique. For people who think he is infallible, I have three words; Wild, Wild West. But, Will is great in this role, trying to be darker than we all know he is not. There are shades of Mike Lowrey there, but nothing compared to his turns in Ali or I Am Legend. It’s hard not to root for Hancock, because you know, that Will Smith can be a real hero and you’re just waiting for him to do it. Charlize is not only fascinating to look at, but she has great chemistry with both Will and Jason. By time her character’s true nature is revealed, she has a lot of fun playing with it until the film’s flimsy final act. And if you’re an Arrested Development devotee like me, I dare you to watch her and Jason Bateman in bed and not think “Married, married, married!” in a British accent. Which of course brings us to the real hero of the movie, The Bateman. Long content to play the second fiddle, third in line for everything, always finishing fourth and being the fifth wheel, Bateman gets an opportunity to shine as Hancock’s PR agent. As an earnest, liberal goody two shoes out trying to make the world a better place for his son, Bateman is the real hero of the movie, giving the audience someone to identify with. Hopefully, he’ll get a chance to be in more movies like this, even though I love him in Dodgeball, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Juno, Smokin’ Aces, Necessary Roughness and The Kingdom. He’s so dreamy.