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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Will Smith
Charlize Theron
Jason Bateman
Eddie Marsan.
Directors
Peter Berg.
Screenwriters
Vince Gilligan
Vincent Ngo.
Running Time
92 minutes

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Hancock
Remember, kids - don’t drink and fly


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Plot
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.


Review
Hancock
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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.


Verdict
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

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Hancock
Empire Star Rating

Pity about its sudden genre-change

The only problem with Hancock is that it cannot decide what it wants to be. It starts out as an utterly hilarious comedy about a drunken superhero, but becomes an awkward moral about accepting your true destiny. Will Smith is perfect as the ultra-strong drunkard, and Jason Bateman is just as good. Peter Berg shows considerable talent also, seeing as he is the man who brought us the rather admirable The Kingdom. The film's writers, however, prove to be its failure as they should have brought on ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by djphilips at 16:33, 07 April 2010 | Report This Post


snatch099 is absolutly right, who could watch this crap, the jokes were as funny as soil, acting mostly laboured depite will's performance being the only standout feature and a crap ending ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ivanahump at 12:20, 11 November 2009 | Report This Post


Better than i expected

The only real problem for me was that it was a little too short. Had it been longer there would of been more room to develop the characters and pad the story out a bit, maybe a few flashbacks of his past and a few more scene's of general super hero stuff (people being rescued, disasters being stopped etc). All in all it was just an hour and a half of decent entertainment. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by natman_begins at 18:13, 24 September 2009 | Report This Post


extremely over the top.

this movie is a piece os shit. i would rather watch an fat kid with chronic diahorrea than to watch this ridiculous rubbish. what is up with sticking heads up other peoples asses? people call hancock an asshole but i would call the guy who made this an asshole. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by snatch099 at 08:50, 14 September 2009 | Report This Post


Hancock

I Thought This Film Was Very Good But It Wasnt The Best Film I've The Story-Line Is Brilliant But I Think The Woman Super Hero Much More Individual She Steels Hancock Phrases Like When She Says Call Me Crazy One More Time It Would Be Better If They Made Her Have Her Own Phrases But Overall I Thought The Film Was A 4/5. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MDedout at 22:26, 22 April 2009 | Report This Post


Oh, by the way...

...make sure you catch the Special Edition version. Why can't the US ever get the nerve to release the proper versions..? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by amerelium at 17:24, 09 February 2009 | Report This Post


Good fun

A fun twist on superhero movies, that pokes fun at a lot of things. Smth's charm is what carries it along, and it's hard to see anyone else making it fly (fnarr fnarr). Methinks the people criticising it are taking it too seriously (militant superhero buffs anyone?). I for one would catch a sequesl, allthough he's now (presumably) off the bottle... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by amerelium at 19:12, 08 February 2009 | Report This Post


What a stupid overrated film! I was more enthralled by the cinemagoers beside me than this rubbish, cliched, badly written drool! Will Smith was excellent in Ali and Pursuit Of Happyness and now he goes and commits social suicide starring in this film! I wish there was a rating lower than 1! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by WiseGuy101 at 09:23, 04 February 2009 | Report This Post


half a good film and half a bad film

the first half of hancock is great. its funny, smart, engaging and a good superhero flick even though we saw it all in the trailer (and really if you have seen the trailer dont watch the film) the second half introduces a twist and action and ruins the film. sure i know that by half way they had done the whole story and needed something to keep it going and make it interesting and show there is more to than the trailer suggests but it didnt work and the first half (which you see in the trailer) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by THE DALTONATOR at 10:32, 25 January 2009 | Report This Post


worst bad guy ever

i know the film isn't really about 'the bad guy' but Paul Marsan as a one armed texan? seriously? i don't mind him as an actor, but he seems to be turning up everywhere- Miami Vice, Mission Impossible3, now Hancock (3 films i watched this week- he's on my mind) He's doing well somehow, but what a bad role! nothing to do except lose a couple of limbs. if the bad guy had been written, rather than added on, Hancock would hvae been great. Shame it's just average (love the adition of the love scene... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by twombley at 17:41, 06 January 2009 | Report This Post


worst bad guy ever

i know the film isn't really about 'the bad guy' but Paul Marsan as a one armed texan? seriously? i don't mind him as an actor, but he seems to be turning up everywhere- Miami Vice, Mission Impossible3, now Hancock (3 films i watched this week- he's on my mind) He's doing well somehow, but what a bad role! nothing to do except lose a couple of limbs. if the bad guy had been written, rather than added on, Hancock would hvae been great. Shame it's just average (love the adition of the love scene... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by twombley at 17:41, 06 January 2009 | Report This Post


So close

This was almost a truly great film but is let down by a rushed redemption plot (Hancock shapes up within 30 mins or so) and muddled third act that veers off in alternate directions without explaining itself well enough or giving you a satisfying ending. With a bit more tweaking to the screenplay this really could have been something special. As it is it's merely damn good fun. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 20:46, 04 January 2009 | Report This Post


Hancock

The first 50 minutes are brilliant. Filled with action, comedy and more action. It's a shame about the "twist" that destroys the plot entirely. Not a bad film but certainly not a brilliant one. I am however looking forward to a hancock 2 that could be a lot better. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Blue Ryan at 17:58, 27 December 2008 | Report This Post


Superhero movies seem to be ten-a-penny recently, with many popular franchises being restarted reinvented or damn even reinvigorated. The quality bar has continued to rise, since the first real Superman movie to the recent barnstorming Dark Knight. Their tone has begun to change. Instead of colourful cartoon character with inexplicable superpowers (to quote Matchbox 20 ‘getting a ‘funky vibe of the yellow sun’ is about the level of the sophistication) their now has to be an in ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gepete80 at 11:01, 23 December 2008 | Report This Post


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


Well I liked It.....

When Hancock first came out, it seemed to me it was a mixed bag of opinions so I was unsure whether to see it or not. In my opinion, the whole movie was good! And the soundtrack was amazing, at one point because the music and that scene of Hancock almost getting killed, I was nearly in tears. I'm definately going to buy it when I get the chance. I loved the ending too. Smith is a great actor and the banter between Hancock and Jason Bateman's character made me laugh. Not the best of superhero mov... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JLS008 at 12:19, 10 December 2008 | Report This Post


a mess

Part action, part comedy, part super-hero most overcome something movie, two parts product placement, this movie is just a mess. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 20:01, 05 December 2008 | Report This Post


When I saw the trailer for this film it looked like it could work and might be a decent one to watch. When the film actually came out in the cinema I was putting it off going to see it because I had heard a lot of mixed reviews about it. I eventually decided to go and see it and I was very disappointed. The elements of Smith's character in the opening 20 minutes or so where very good but after this the whole plot flatlined. It's difficult to know as to which the direction the film i... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by PureAinmhi at 12:10, 03 December 2008 | Report This Post


OK

Worked as a comedy, but not a superhero movie ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 13:34, 05 September 2008 | Report This Post


OK

Worked as a comedy, but not a superhero movie ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 13:34, 05 September 2008 | Report This Post


OK

Worked as a comedy, but not a superhero movie ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 13:34, 05 September 2008 | Report This Post


OK

Worked as a comedy, but not a superhero movie ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 13:34, 05 September 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


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