July 4, 2008 Hancock
Studio: Columbia Pictures Rating: PG-13 for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language
In a summer where we've already seen an armored avenger and a green goliath, with a dark knight yet to appear, Will Smith delivers the most unusual superhero yet.
The best way for me to describe "Hancock" is to have you imagine Superman with a drinking problem and a bad attitude.
Don't get me wrong. Smith's character is a hero. He stops crime and saves lives. But he also causes plenty of collateral damage while doing so.
Hancock winds up meeting Ray Embry (Jason Bateman.) He's a public relations guy who is trapped in his car on some train tracks. After Hancock rescues Ray, demolishing several cars and the train in the process, the PR guy offers to help the hero with his "image problem."
With the people of Los Angeles sick of Hancock's "help" and calling for his head, Ray convinces the hero to give himself up and go to jail.
In his absence it doesn't take long for the crime rate to skyrocket. The police call and beg Hancock to take down some violent bank robbers, which gives him a chance to show off his brand new way of doing things.
This is a pretty decent movie and the cast is one of the big reasons. In addition to Smith and Bateman, Charlize Theron play Ray's wife Mary. She serves a critical role in the second half of the film.
I liked this very different take on the hero genre. Smith's deeply flawed Hancock is truly a loner with no friends. Watching him transform into a more traditional super-powered character is entertaining. Bateman and Theron do very nice work in their roles as the pieces of Hancock's forgotten past start falling into place.
Besides some big action pieces there are also some funny moments in the film, including Hancock's first day behind bars. Some inmates challenge him so Hancock has to show them who the boss is. Sure it's shocking and juvenile, but you'll probably laugh at what happens.
That being said the movie is far from perfect. Its worst flaw is dwelling way too much on Hancock's reaction to a certain word. The joke gets old pretty fast. And with a running time of a little more than an hour and a half the ending feels rushed. After setting up the story in good fashion the movie runs out of steam as it lumbers to a close.
Those concerns aside, winning performances and an original story make this a good summertime diversion.
On my rating scale, "Hancock" earns a Triple.
COPS Tonight at 8:00 PM Stupid Behavior No. 5
After a man crashes into a sign and takes off on foot, he collapses complaining of heart trouble; officers find meth and possible stolen items in a suspect's pocket; a couple argues over a damaged wall