Peter Berg's attempt at making a superhero genre movie falls short because he dallies in too many conventional scenes and less logic.
Hancock runs through its original tale for the first half of the movie. Though he has the city's best interests in mind John Hancock's drunken attempts to stop crime ends in more damage than good. This alienates and wins the wrath of the people who wish to see him being kicked out of the city. Hancock's attitude does not help his image much either and he plunges into depression due to his own sense of not belonging to the society.
Then out of the blue, help comes his way. Saving the life of a public relations man, Ray, becomes a life-changing experience for Hancock since Ray helps him undergo an image makeover. He helps him to rehabilitate into a dependable champion who actually get things right for a change. Several light comic events in which Hancock learns how to say 'Thank you', serve time on an outstanding warrant, learn how to take off and land without damaging surroundings follow. We even see a costume made for the superhero-to-be which reminds us of Wolverine's attire in The X-Men. Just when things were settling down in town, peace is shattered.
The mystery which remains from the first half of the film on why Ray's wife, Mary, keeps her distance from Hancock comes to light in the second half of the movie.
Will Smith plays the lead role as Hancock. In another actor's hands it would have been difficult for the audience to warm up to Hancock but Smith's inherent likeability comes to the fore in this movie. Though we are antagonized against him in the beginning, he manages to win our respect through his transformation.
Charlize Theron plays her character well even though it is one which is far below her acting talents. She is seen in the background as a simple homemaker and only comes to the limelight after the audience discovers that she is not simply a housewife and is probably the answer to Hancock's deep-seated loneliness and resentment.
The film is not entirely suitable for children because Smith plays a foul-mouthed superhero. Though he is always eager to please, he does not hesitate to deliver drunken insults to the ordinary citizens of the city which makes it hard for him to be included in the same league as other superheroes like Batman, Spiderman, Superman or Thor. This is a pity because if Berg had adjusted some of the dialogues, 'Hancock' would not have missed out on being a family movie.
Hancock follows the path of stereotyped superhero movies to a great extent that it could have been fragments of incidents which have been collected from other movies pieced into one. The protagonist struggling to come to terms with his super powers and creating chaos around the city is common in such films. This is Spiderman or Superman with a different identity.
Berg's camerawork needs improvement because he could have projected some glorious shots from the air. Unfortunately the director has not made much use of these aspects. He has focused more on keeping the story and action going rather than trying to make use of what he already has in a more detailed manner. 'Hancock' seems to make a mad dash to the finishing line rather than exploit the few resources that it already possesses.
Similarly the script lacks logic at times and the few surprises that spring out from 'Hancock' are disastrous rather than pleasing. Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan should have studied the mindset of the audience rather than include as many elements as they dared to dream of, hoping that those will keep fans immersed.
If you are a hardcore superhero fan you might like Hancock. Otherwise it is best to give this 'superhero' a miss!
Ruwini JAYAWARDANA - Daily News