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HANCOCK

SYNOPSIS:
Hancock (Will Smith) has attitude, drinks a bit, looks like a hobo but has super powers. However, his hamfisted way of getting the job done and save countless lives always leaves massive damage in his wake. Grateful as they are, the folks of Los Angeles are getting fed up with him. Not that Hancock cares - until the day that he saves the life of PR executive Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), and the sardonic superhero begins to realize that he may have a decent and vulnerable side after all. Facing that will be Hancock's greatest challenge yet - and a task that may prove impossible as Ray's wife, Mary (Charlize Theron), insists that he's a lost cause.

Review by Louise Keller:
Everyone loves Will Smith. What's not to love? He's everyone's hero and here he plays a superhero with a difference: his John Hancock is a gruff, heavy drinking, rude, unpopular lout who helps uphold the law - ungraciously. We think we know where the story is heading when Jason Bateman's PR consultant Ray Embrey ('I want to change the world') gives him an image makeover, but we are wrong. I love surprises and would happily be led up the garden path with Will Smith, but there's a fatal flaw to Hancock, with alien-sized plot holes and worse still, characters behaving out of context. As a result, this big budget Will Smith action movie is certain to divide audiences and for the most part leave them wanting.

There's something appealing about the converse philosophy of a reluctant superhero who is a pain in the neck. Smith's Hancock zooms through the air faster than a speeding bullet, is certainly more powerful than a locomotive as he flings cars, truck and trains high in the air, but makes rather messy landings and has a way of irritating the world at large, big time. The 'taming of Hancock' provides the film's funniest and most entertaining moments as Ray convinces him to conform, dress according to his superhero status and go to group therapy sessions with a circle of prison thugs. When Ray's house is half demolished from 'a sneeze', things go seriously wrong with the script. Achoo. Bless you. Screenwriters Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan seem to have forgotten that while superheroes can do anything, we mortals behave in certain ways, and we need to believe in what the characters are doing or we can be wrenched out of the movie.

Smith is as good as ever as the larger-than-life misfit of a superhero and Charlize Theron is well cast as the caring wife and mother who makes a connection with Hancock. Bateman is especially credible in the first half and I like Eddie Marsan as Red, the dastardly evil crim. There's plenty of action and director Peter Berg makes good use of the close up. Fate, fallibility, mortality, power transference and doing what one does best are issues that are canvassed, but for me, instead of lighting up the sky, the movie fizzles like a wet sparkler.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If you can imagine this high concept movie being pitched to studio execs as 'a black Superman with bad attitude finds redemption through love' you get an approximation of what Hancock is trying to do. Will Smith, one of the western world's most beloved black actors, steps up to one of the more offbeat genre movies, even though the basic scenario is not that peculiar. (This is not the place to spoil that for you.)

What's different about this as superhero films go is not that he's black, but Hancock's downbeat - often plain rude - attitude while saving people from freak accidents or baddies with guns. Will Smith helps cast a black shadow over his character in the first act with his Hancock a foulmouthed slob who drinks whiskey from the bottle, and whose careless intervention rips up roads and blows holes in buildings. The result is black humour, made edgy because we don't know where it's going, even though we suspect that the story will take him and us beyond the obvious.

It does, and the necessary details are revealed in amusingly explosive ways. If you are hankering for a popcorn movie, Hancock's a good bet. Will Smith gives Hancock an engaging character, Charlize Theron shows an impressive array of skills to deliver Angel, and Jason Bateman is excellent as the hapless publicity guy who believes he can change Hancock's behaviour to save his superhero reputation and make him socially acceptable. We are all in for a surprise as this process progresses, and it's not one we expect. Needless to say, you should turn off your reality meter during the show ...

Offbeat, funny but dramatic in parts, Hancock is a new entry in the superhero genre, grounded in a story good enough to last the running time and fitted out with some fresh elements.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

HANCOCK (M)
(US, 2008)

CAST: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, Jae Head, Eddie Marsan, David Mattey, Maetrix Fitten, Thomas Lennon, Johnny Galecki,

PRODUCER: Akiva Goldsman, James Lassiter, Michael Mann, Will Smith

DIRECTOR: Peter Berg

SCRIPT: Vincent Ngo, Vince Gilligan

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tobias A. Schliessler

EDITOR: Colby Parker Jr., Paul Rubell

MUSIC: John Powell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Neil Spisak

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 3, 2008







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