Posted at 10:46 AM on July 2, 2008
by Euan Kerr
The new Will Smith action epic is just plain fun. He plays John Hancock, a superhero with a serious attitude and drinking problem.
Sure he helps people, and deals with the bad guys. But he's never very tidy about it, and tends to cause a whole lot of damage, even just when he lands somewhere. He's foul-mouthed, and far from politically correct in his blunt appraisal of the world.
As a result, even though he's a superhero, he's not at all popular. In fact many people use a certain epithet to describe him, which unfortunately is the exact one which makes him behave badly.
Enter Ray (Jason Bateman) a naive PR guy who Hancock saves from a train. Ray decides Hancock needs a PR make-over, despite the reservations of his wife Mary (Charlize Theron) who worries about the implications of having a super-powered person in the front room.
What makes Hancock work is the great interactions between Smith, Bateman, and Theron. It's smart, funny and twist-filled. There are lots of explosions and high-octane chases too, but such is the fun in the dialog the movie actually slows down when the characters begin to fly.
Director Peter Berg (who recently delivered the graduation address at his alma mater Macalester College, and does a little product placement for the school in the movie) allows the characters to develop, and even provides a little philosophical context about our need for superheroes and how they would actually be treated in our cynical world.
It's not pretty, but like I say, it's a lot of fun.