HANCOCK (2008) *** movie review by COOP

Posted on July 10th, 2008
Posted on July 10th, 2008

With all the hype of the established comic book franchises assaulting the screens this summer, “Hancock” nearly flew under the radar. Although “Hancock” is not adapted from a comic book, its creators came up with a simple, yet interesting premise to sell it to the studios: What if the world’s only superhero was an alcoholic jerk?

You can exploit a formula for a long time before it eventually turns old and tiresome. Add a shaky political climate to that mix and you filmmakers itching to break genre rules and an audience willing to accept the gamble. It happened in the 1970’s in the wake of Vietnam. Suddenly westerns and cop dramas featured good guys that weren’t so good and tragic endings became commonplace. Hancock is more of a remedial, Hollywood-ish attempt at a revisionist superhero film, but I’m glad it showed up. The real revisionist superhero film, “Watchmen,” will no doubt shock audiences on March 2009 with its depiction of heroes as sociopaths and mass murderers (these guys make Batman look like Gandhi). Hancock is no “Watchmen,” but it’s a step in the so wrong, it’s right direction.

Too bad director/former actor Peter Berg (“The Kingdom,” “Friday Night Lights”) couldn’t keep the tone consistent. The film starts off promising as armed robbers shoot their way through police and traffic on a Los Angeles freeway. Where’s Hancock (Will Smith), the infamous superhero and defender of the city? Passed out drunk on a downtown bench. After a concerned citizen shakes him awake, he lazily springs into action. He manages to capture the bad guys, but causes millions in damage in the process. Later he once again causes expensive destruction while saving a down-on-his-luck public relations agent, Ray (Jason Bateman), from being crushed by a train. Good-hearted Ray offers to represent Hancock and repair his image with the general public. Hancock, lonely and tired of being called names, reluctantly decides to take Ray up on his offer, especially after meeting Ray’s attractive wife, Mary (Charlize Theron) who acts strangely suspicious in Hancock’s presence.

The film starts off as an action comedy then quickly turns dramatic when we witness the true depth of Hancock’s misery and sadness. He has no identity, no family and no friends. He feels compelled to help and save others but gets no love from the public due to the collateral damage he causes. To cope he drinks which only makes matters worse. Despite his poor attitude we can see deep down he has a good heart and we cheer when he starts showing improvement. Then the twist happens. If you didn’t realize there was a twist, then you weren’t watching the trailers and TV spots close enough. I knew immediately “Hancock” was hiding something when the previews omitted an essential element required in a superhero film. Where is the villain? Who or what is Hancock fighting against? The studio intentionally hid this from the audience in the trailers, not only to protect the twist, but to hide the film’s gaping weak point. Up until the twist, the film had me 100%. After the revelation, the film took a turn in a less interesting direction and my enthusiasm waned.

That’s not to say I count the film a failure. I found the performances top-notch with Will Smith, once again, proving why he’s such a box office draw. Over the years, he’s perfected his range to include comedy, drama and action in the same film and few do it better than him these days. As long as he keeps the quality high (and as long as the “Governator” doesn’t make a comeback), fans will continue to flock to his summer blockbusters. Jason Bateman, in a career comeback that has surprised and delighted both fans and critics, also plays it straight and comedic. From his return to quality TV comedy in “Arrested Development” to his turn in the Oscar-winning “Juno,” his star rises once again. Let’s hope he keeps the momentum going. Charlize Theron… I won’t say much about her. Not great, yet not bad either. The powers that be barely acknowledged her in the trailers and I have a feeling a lower-profile actress could’ve benefitted the film rather than trying to hide the fact an Oscar-winning actress has a mysterious part in it.

The plot holes and the inconsistencies in the finale killed the chances of this becoming a superhero franchise, a blunder I consider a shamefully wasted opportunity. For once, I believe this film would’ve succeeded if it went in the direction the audience expected it to go in. I didn’t care as much where Hancock came from as long as he found the redemption he was looking for. “Iron Man” did this perfectly. So did “Batman.” It’s a viable formula and I don’t mind seeing it over and over as long as I care about the characters. Berg and Company opted for the distracting twist and paid dearly for it. I still had fun and forgave the flaw in favor of its near-perfect first half. If you need something to satisfy your superhero-itch until “The Dark Knight,” you might consider giving “Hancock” a fair chance.

Sadly, I wouldn’t recommend this at all for children under 13. A few of the scenes were repulsively foul and uncalled for (i.e. Hancock vs. the two prison inmates). The character of Hancock, at first, is less of a role model than Dennis Rodman at his worse. He gropes women, menaces children and swears a blue streak in front of everybody. Don’t get me wrong; I liked the guy. Even alcoholic, abusive superheroes deserve a second chance. I even learned some new curse words from him. Good for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

No Comments •


Search Form
Trailer for the award-winning short PRISMA…

A corporate promotional VHS tape from 1984 conceals a brain-altering signal which is said to grant increased health, longevity and psychic powers to those who watch it. View at your own risk...

WINNER: SPECIAL JURY PRIZE, 2017 Oxford Film Festival

WINNER: BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

SEMI-FINALIST: 2017 NanoCon International Science-Fiction Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST ANIMATION, 2017 End of Days Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST GRAPHICS, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

2017 Nightmares Film Festival
2017 A Night of Horror Film Festival
2017 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
2017 Oxford Film Festival
2017 Crossroads Film Festival
2017 Clarksdale Film Festival
2017 Twisted Dreams Film Festival
2017 Tupelo Film Festival
2017 NanoCon International Sci-Fi Film Festival
2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival
2017 End of Days Film Festival
2017 Grenada Afterglow Film Festival
2017 Shiver International Film Festival
2017 Southern States Indie FanFilmFest

Trailer for the lost short GOD MAKER…

Northern Mississippi 1932:
In a cabin in the woods, a blind blues guitarist will discover his destiny from a lovesick goddess who seeks to corrupt his soul.

GOD MAKER remains unfinished and in limbo for now, but the trailer expresses the mood and imagery intended for the project...

Coop’s award-winning 48 hour short film trailer for REGRESS…

Told in reverse, this experimental made-in-48-hours film begins with a shocking murder then backtracks (like a viewer rewinding a VHS tape) to reveal the chilling origins of this tragedy.

WINNER: BEST SHORT FILM at the 2013 Clarksdale Film Festival...
NOMINATED: BEST DIRECTING by the 2012 48hr. Guerrilla Film Challenge (international contest)...
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Crossroads Film Festival

Watch Coop’s award-winning short film THE BEST DAY…



Morgan Freeman asks Coop a question at THE BEST DAY premiere! Video below…

My short film THE BEST DAY premiered in October 2011 at the Delta Cinema in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Little did I know I had a special guest in the audience who was about to ask me a question during the Q&A. Yep, I got a little flustered when I saw who it was.

Follow Coop on Twitter...
    follow me on twitter
    Follow smalltowncritic on Twitter
    Subscribe via Email!

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    Subscribe via RSS feed!