Thursday, February 19, 2009

Movie # 39: Hancock

Returning to the deep backlog of movies awaiting review, we pick up with Hancock, Will Smith's big-budget superhero-with-a-bad-attitude flick. Directed by Peter Berg, someone whose gritty, hand-held style of film making has become readily identifiable (gritty inasmuch as a film with a $150 million budget can be called gritty), Hancock looks and feels mostly authentic. One scene has Will Smith carrying a car so effortlessly, that I actually had to rewind it for a second look. I am constantly amazed at what special effects artists are able to do these days. I am less amazed, however, with what screenwriters are able to do.

There really isn't much of a plot to Hancock, and for much of the movie that's just fine. The titular character is an interesting subject and, simply looking in on how he treats the world and how the world treats him, is surprisingly satisfying. His friendship with Jason Bateman's character, an idealistic PR man, is the real highlight of the movie. The third act of the movie, however, is mostly a disaster. There's a major reveal about midway through the movie that, while it makes sense, isn't terribly fun to watch played out. Add on to that twist the remnants of the weak main plot---such as it is---and you get an overblown and uninteresting climax.

Hancock is exceedingly watchable and, at times, emotionally involving. All three of the leads, Smith, Bateman and Charlize Theron, are flat-out likable. The final result, however, is a movie that gets caught between its desire to be daring and different and the inevitable pressures to be conventional and familiar.

Grade: 7/10


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