Review: Hancock

Even before 'Hancock' went into production (with a earlier title of 'Tonight He Comes'), news of its fresh and innovation script that takes on a much more alternative perspective at a superhero attracted much innovative praise. Never once Hollywood had done a film on a hero that “don’t give a f**k” about who he is or what he is supposed to do. He is simply him and just wants to get on with his life as he sees fit. Although this kind of angle has been done to death in the comics world, but in Hollywood is still deemed fresh. As such, the script attracted a major movie studio to finance it with mega-big-bucks, attracted a major star to play the main character, and attracted a much-acclaimed director to wave his celluloid wand to bring us superhero magic. How can anything possibly go wrong? Well, in one simple word, everything.

The film starts off pretty well with a premise of some great possibilities, i.e. redemption from his never-care-less attitude towards everything and everyone around him, his lack of responsibility towards his superhero abilities and his habit of alcoholism that are centered in a true-to-life setting of Los Angeles provides a solid basis for an interesting story arc. But half way through the movie, the strong concept collapses onto its on weight and runs aground into a quagmire of disorder that altered a promising film into a medium that is attuned to the needs of Will Smith’s star commercialism. In other words, it went all too Hollywoody.

A commercial film it may turn out to be, and yet, at certain moments in the film the tone turns dark with constant swearing and at-times vicious fight sequences that left me in a state of perplexity. At certain moments, it is violent in its action sequences (especially in the hospital) and yet juvenile in its jokes (and yet not particularly funny) with ‘colorful’ language that do not do go well to children’s ears. It is a juxtaposition that left me in a state of total confusion and I took on an uneasy feeling throughout the film. I’m not sure which demographic the director, Peter Berg (The Kingdom, The Rundown, Friday Night Lights) is aiming for but in my opinion he should just stick to one direction and focus on it. If he wants it to be sinister toned, then by all means be consistent with the violence. If this film is for the kids, then the ending with the fight sequence in a hospital should not have been there as I think its way too brutal for the eyes of children. I think Peter Berg was way to ambitious with this project by wanting to please way too many types of people, and in the end all he had achieved is diluting this promising premise into a concoction of celluloid mess.

The story itself is saturated with lame sentimentality and is tied down by a backstory that gets all the more tiresome as the film progresses. The film tried to be too elaborate with themes of lost love and cheating fate until at times it contradicts itself and leaves the audience all the more confused. The attempt to add depth to the Hancock character turned out to the biggest mistake of the film until it all becomes useless pieces of fillers to plug the gaps between one grand fight sequences to the next and to carry us limping towards its finale.

In the end, ‘Hancock’ is a cumbersome mess that elates only the most loyal of Will Smith fan or is a gargantuan supporter of CGI-induced films. The shaky-cam effect that was so effective to the 'Bourne' series were also very nauseous-ly executed which didn't help the film at all in any redeeming way. The promising story of a superhero with a redemption theme mixed with scathing black comedy were thrown out the window and became a film that got pulled into way too many directions that satisfied no one. Too dark for kids, too tame for teens and too dumb for adults, it’s all a complete mess. This is one Will Smith movie that I regrettably watched with total dissatisfaction. But if this film still does well at the box-office, I guess it’s a testament to the star-power of Will Smith. If he can sell this mess, he can definitely sell anything.

Verdict: 5 / 10

Reviewed by: Raymond Choy

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