Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
The Perfect Night In
Great Movies From Warner Bros.
Subscribe To Empire
Sign up now and save up to 63%
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

Will Smith
Charlize Theron
Jason Bateman
Eddie Marsan.
Peter Berg.
Vince Gilligan
Vincent Ngo.
Running Time
92 minutes

Miss Julie
2 Star Empire Rating
Second Mother, The
4 Star Empire Rating
No Escape
2 Star Empire Rating
Ricki And The Flash
2 Star Empire Rating
4 Star Empire Rating

Man With A Movie Camera
5 Star Empire Rating
Salt Of The Earth, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Song Of The Sea
5 Star Empire Rating
Look Of Silence, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Mad Max: Fury Road
5 Star Empire Rating

Remember, kids - don’t drink and fly

submit to reddit

LA wino John Hancock (Smith) has superheroic powers, but his drunken attempts at fighting crime have caused huge damage and alienated people. When Hancock saves PR man Ray’s (Bateman) life, Ray offers to advise him on rehabilitating his image. But Mary (Theron), Ray’s wife, doesn’t want to get involved with Hancock.

Browse more images »

It’s ironic that Hancock involves a public-relations campaign to modify the seedy truth about a down-and-out in order to sell a streamlined fable about a high-flying hero, since the movie has been seriously misrepresented by its advance publicity. The trailers, poster and ad images pull out snide gags (the whale-tossing, a remark about Hancock’s tight leather suit) and give the impression that Will Smith is following a recent run of fairly serious efforts with one of the lightweight, crowd-pleasing action comedies which made his name. As Smith’s drunken-idiot superhero blunders through the apprehension of a carload of speeding crooks, this feels like a (better) male-slob answer to My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and one vaguely expects Martin Lawrence to show up as Jimmy Olsen.

At some point in its lengthy development, Hancock was probably exactly that movie. A preview version was reportedly more knockabout, on the lines of Superhero Movie - including something in an earlier draft which addressed that age-old question of whether Lois (and the bedroom ceiling) would be in danger if Clark super-ejaculated inside her. The film also bears traces of a few more serious drafts, probably modelled on Unbreakable, and someone came in to serve the Bad Boys contingency, sprinkling crude laugh-lines throughout Smith’s dialogue - which at least raises a snicker when Hancock eyes a comic hero who isn’t quite the Mighty Thor (at least, so the lawyers would emphasise) and writes him off as “Norwegian homo”.

There was also probably a version which was cynical about the process of packaging a foul up as a hero. Here, instead of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? with X-ray vision, we get an unprecedented depiction of a publicist as the soul of decency who wants to create rather than sell a hero. This is so out of whack with screen depictions of the ad-pub biz, from Sweet Smell Of Success to Mad Men, that it’s almost heroic in itself, and Jason Bateman’s sweet, earnest performance (in the kind of role in which director Peter Berg used to specialise when he was an actor) subtly sells emotional beats between the explosions and head-up-the-ass gags.

Will Smith starts out looking like his character from The Pursuit Of Happyness after a few more months on the street, but shapes up into a slightly too conventional hero, with most of Superman’s powers and a costume of black leathers that even a mugger recognises as a Wolverine knock-off. As usual in tales of redemption, Hancock is more interesting when behaving badly - tossing a pre-teen bully played by the kid who was the young Michael Myers in the Halloween remake into the stratosphere, or doing the old Man Of Steel ‘more powerful than a locomotive’ act by standing on the tracks so that the train crashes to a stop around his immovable body as boxcars pile up for a mile or so along the track.

The film runs through its original story by the halfway point, when Hancock voluntarily goes to prison, knowing the city will need to release him the next time there’s a crisis. Then, Eddie Marsan is perfunctorily introduced as a low-rent Luthor and a major plot development derails the comedy and the interesting relationship between Hancock and Ray to foreground a surprisingly downbeat third act. Hancock’s backstory (he’s an amnesiac who woke up in hospital 80 years ago with two tickets to see Frankenstein in his pocket, and has taken his name from the American slang for signature) is promising, but opens the story in ways the film doesn’t follow through: if the authorities give the Hulk such a bad time and want to wipe out the X-mutants, why are no government spooks trying to get Hancock’s invulnerability secrets or recruiting him to take out Iran’s nuclear labs? During a rainswept, bloody final stand in a hospital, the film becomes indistinguishable from any other super-vigilante picture.

See-saws between straight superhero movie and parody, with layers of soap-opera fudge in between. A lot of solid scenes - but Hancock lacks the power of super-coherence.

Reviewed by Kim Newman

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Hancock
Empire Star Rating

RE: Hancock

I kinda liked it. ... More

Posted by DazDaMan at 09:35, 23 December 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hancock

An interesting premise and some nice ideas are largely wasted in a mis-marketed film which doesn't really know whether it wants to be a comedy, a traditional super-hero movie or a fresh take of a tired genre and ends up being none of the above. Smith is watchable, Theron is i]watchable, but the whole thing is a bit of a mess. (5/10) ... More

Posted by MOTH at 10:07, 22 December 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hancock

Han-cack. ... More

Posted by Mason Verger at 19:04, 19 December 2008 | Report This Post

RE: I agree, get off the fence once in a while!!! enough with the 3's!

L: drunkmunky33 the lack of a decent bad guy was a downer but hey. batemen was fantastic liked the lack of a "propper " bad guy... it would have tied up too much of the first half to introduce him/ her properly and that would have taken time from Smith/ Bateman... they were such a good team. And I did NOT see her coming ;) (no spoilers) I liked it. I enjoyed it and I am still on my Smith rules standpoint. The man can do ANYTHING and do it good. :) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Esmereldet at 19:58, 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: So disapointing.

mixed bag, i agree with the rating i guess, though i feel i enjoyed it a lot more because people have been saying it wasnt that good. It was decent enough and fairly entertaining, though the shift in tone at the end was maybe a bit too far. I wouldnt mind seeing another attempt (sorry to encourage) but Hancock seems to be an original if somewhat not-well-though-out superhero. ... More

Posted by kumar at 00:05, 11 August 2008 | Report This Post


It isn#t a bad film but is another victim the of propogation of continuity errors which appears to be occurring more and more in mainstream big budget films.  One such error is why, if he loses his powers when close to a certain individual, hasn't he lost his powers earlier in the film considering he has been in her presence for a good quarter of the film prior to the big reveal?  There are further instances but it is hot and I can't be bothered going into all of t... More

Posted by sanchia at 13:19, 27 July 2008 | Report This Post


really felt let down by this, i think it's a great premise and starts well but it just rambles into nothingness and sure enough by the end me and my mate were ripping the piss out of it. : there's so many inconsistencies and stupid parts. IF Hancock will get his power back by not being around her why does she go to him in the hospital? Why does she suddenly dress in sexy clothes and eye make up - movies always have to go with shit like this. Why is there no proper explanation as to w... More

Posted by samthemanc at 14:05, 24 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: not bad

I enjoyed Hancock because it didn't turn out to be what I expected. I expected a full on action film, so I was pleasantly surprised to see some emotion involved. It was over complicated with Theron's character, I feel that storyline could have been put aside to focus more on the villains of the film, however without her we would not have been able to understand why Hancock was so fucked up in the first place. Will Smith continues to impress me and the fact he's gone from Fresh Prince to this is... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lua at 16:01, 10 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hancock

Great Summer movie. Lots of fun and I loved the shift in tone during the halfway point. It has to be noted that it was to the credit of Smith, Theron and Bateman that I was able to get behind the more serious parts of the story. Never expected to enjoy it as much as I knew the twist but thankfully there was still a solid film and I agree to an extent that perhaps there is a classic burried underneath what is otherwise a solid and fun film. Some of Hancocks one liners are just fantastic. "Y... More

Posted by The REAL Bozz at 10:29, 10 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hancock

Saw this last night. It's not terrible, but I do wonder how it would've turned out if they'd stuck to the original script by Vincent Ngo, which was a lot darker and apparently reminiscent of Leaving Las Vegas. As it stands, it's just another action-comedy, without particularly great action or - after Will's been to the slammer - particularly funny comedy. I also thought that they made a mistake in neglecting to have any kind of serious threat posed to Hancock; the bad guys are just laughab... More

Posted by themarquis at 12:51, 09 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hancock

I saw this film last night and throught it was very good. Will Smith did a good job in the title role. Great special effects, a very cool oppertunity to see a superhero fly drunk and create more damage than prevent. The plot was a bit too complicated. I throught the relationship the Charlize Thoron's charactor lowered the tone a bit. There was slightly more swearing than nessary for a 12A. ... More

Posted by white mage at 12:07, 09 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Not as Advertised

Here's my review guys, if you like it Digg it or just give me some feedback :) I got some more on there if you just search under my real name: 108.php#more-15108 ... More

Posted by Scabby at 19:13, 08 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Not as Advertised

L: Jayofeen Having said that, it's not a terrible movie and contains one of the best kept movie secrets in a long time - WARNING POSSIBLE SPOILER - in Theron's character (i didn't even know Charlize Theron was in it!) 'd disagree there - I guessed it from the trailer. ... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 12:32, 08 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hancock

Surely it'd be better watching it while coked up while drinking Moet rather than in mental and physical pain! I've never once been to the flicks with a hangover, can't be arsed getting off the couch.   If you're right, though, then this is a DVD job... ... More

Posted by DanCurley at 16:53, 07 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hancock

Ok, The Best condition to watch the film is when Hung over then Dan... ... More

Posted by punchdrunk at 16:35, 07 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hancock

L: punchdrunk The Best film to watch when hung over sp; Nope, John Woo's A Better Tomorrow II wins that award. The last 10 mins are so exciting the adrenalin burns all the toxins out of your body and make you feel sweet again. ... More

Posted by DanCurley at 16:19, 07 July 2008 | Report This Post


i was expecting to dislike this immensly. not sure where all the hate is coming from, i thought it was incredibly enjoyable. it was play for play exactly what i was expecting (apart from from a rather unexpected turn from charlize theron) which is great, because i was expecting from what i'd seen of it to really enjoy it. it was funny, exciting, just long enough, i thought the script was consistent and engaging, the effects were fine as was the character development. at any moment i was expecti... More

Posted by maffew at 15:54, 07 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hancock

The Best film to watch when hung over, Bottle of red wine followed by an Absinthe mixer is not a good mix, the next day seeing this film in a rough state allowed me to empathise with Hancock. I found the love interest badly directed maybe she was a little too perfect for the role and could have been better suited to an attractive actress with a stronger comedy muscle, or Gillian Anderson! not sure why her name appeared but she would have made a great foil for Smith. I wish I had avoid... More

Posted by punchdrunk at 11:58, 07 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hancock

Oooh I love a bit of Will Smith. He's fast becoming one of my favourite actors and the moment and I thought he did an amazing job as Hancock. The plot lost its way through a series of muddled conversations half-way through there and the "villains" were a tad half-cocked, so to speak, yet overall I thought the movie was a lot of fun. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jessica_ca_ca_ca at 11:50, 07 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: There's Heroes, There's Superheroes and then there's Will Smith

Saw most of it in the trailers, so couldn't get excited about it really. 2/5 ... More

Posted by Castor Troy at 22:55, 06 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: There's Heroes, There's Superheroes and then there's Will Smith

ERS** Enjoyable enough, but far from one of the best movies of the summer. It yet again proved to me why I very seldom watch trailers for any movies past the initial teasers (still not seen a full ightr - I'm proud of myself for having the willpower as it's been testing at times). I guessed the twist in the story that Charlize Theron's character has superpowers too when in one of the trailers, Hancock says 'I'm the only one of my kind...' and it then cuts to a shot of her: by all means... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 17:37, 06 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hancock

L: ripblade There's heroes. There's superheroes. And then there's Hancock... Mmmm... I find my feeling to Hancock to be very mundane, it was nowhere near as bad as a lot of people have been saying, but at the same time it wasn't particularly special either. It was just a bit "blah” for lack of a better word. This opinion runs throughout the entirety of the movie, special effects aren't rubbish but their nothing new, story isn't atrocious but is pretty straight forward, concept is... More

Posted by Kideternity at 15:17, 06 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hancock

There's heroes. There's superheroes. And then there's Hancock... Mmmm... I find my feeling to Hancock to be very mundane, it was nowhere near as bad as a lot of people have been saying, but at the same time it wasn’t particularly special either. It was just a bit “blah” for lack of a better word. This opinion runs throughout the entirety of the movie, special effects aren’t rubbish but their nothing new, story isn’t atrocious but is pretty straight forward, concept is sort of original... More

Posted by ripblade at 14:42, 06 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: There's Heroes, There's Superheroes and then there's Will Smith

As usaul th best bits are in the trailer. It was ok film but lost its way and walked into a lamp post at the end. ... More

Posted by zombiemaster at 01:22, 06 July 2008 | Report This Post

RE: There's Heroes, There's Superheroes and then there's Will Smith

You can almost see the exact points where the script had been re-written by different people. Very disappointing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 21:23, 05 July 2008 | Report This Post

More user comments

My Movie Life: Andrew Haigh
The 45 Years director on the movies that made him

Vanity Projects: The Musical Edition
A dozen more hits and misses from the rock and pop world

Inside The Martian: Empire Meets NASA
Prepare to science the shit out of it...

Deadpool: A Complete History
Empire's guide to The Merc With A Mouth, in comics and on screen

Evil Media: Haunted TVs, Tapes And Tunes
Ten sinister reasons to go off-grid

Spectre – Everything You Need To Know
Empire's essential briefing on James Bond's 24th outing

The N.W.A-Team
Empire visits the set of Straight Outta Compton

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 63%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)