Like a date that goes horribly wrong midway in the evening, Hancock starts off really strong, but by the end makes you wish you had stayed at home.
Will Smith is Hancock (how he got the name is cool, by the way), a reluctant, foul-mouthed drunk of a superhero. He can leap tall buildings, but he can't save the day without causing millions in damage. He should have an "A" on his chest, because most people from ages 8 to 80 end up calling him "A-hole". Criminals want him dead. Citizens want him arrested. Police want him far, far away. Enter Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), a good-natured PR guy (yes, they exist) who is setting out to change the world on his own, but he's not having much luck. Ok, he's not having ANY luck. Hancock saves Ray from getting squashed by a train, but recklessly demolishes the train in the process.
Ray sees a chance to repay Hancock by helping him clean up his Exxon Valdez-esque image. Hancock is resistant at first, but Embrey won't take no (or "hell no") for an answer. At Ray's request, Hancock allows himself to be arrested to show the citizens what they're missing out on, as Ray hopes they'll come to appreciate him and vice versa. As Hancock begins on his path of redemption, we find out that he has a special bond with Ray's wife, Mary (Charlize Theron). And that's where you want to sue the filmmakers, Will Smith, Sony and everyone named Hancock, just to make a point.
Smith's performance is excellent in the first half of the movie as he deconstructs the superhero mythos. Although he learns that "with great power comes great responsibility," he seems to have forgotten that some of that responsibility is in giving the movie some cohesion.
After all, Smith is one of the producers of "Hancock", so he has to take some of the blame. Bateman (Juno) keeps the movie entertaining even during the bad spots with his droll humor that reminds you of a high school guidance counselor that you can't help but to like. Charlize Theron is beyond gorgeous in the film. As Mary, she should've been the bridge to Hancock's redemption; however, her role flies in contrast to what the story should've been about, leaving you to wonder why she was there in the first place.
Director Peter Berg (The Kingdom) and cinematographer Tobias Schliessler (Dreamgirls) have to be commended for their visual style whether it's intense Michael Mann type close-ups or the destructive way of Hancock's early take-offs and landings. It definitely appealed to the superhero geek as well as added realism. Berg's flying, drunken superhero will definitely bring back memories of "The Greatest American Hero." If only Berg had paid as much attention to detail regarding the storyline.
Whether it was last minute casting, too many chefs in the kitchen or just one too many rewrites (the original script titled "Tonight, He Comes" was created in 1996), Hancock leaves you wondering what could've been. Will Smith may be a hero onscreen, but even his powers came up short in saving this film.
Billy Tatum gives Hancock two and a half Scoops (out of five)
"Hancock." MPAA rating: PG-13 for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language. Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes. In general release.