Well, I guess it had to happen eventually. After a summer in which I've liked just about everything I've seen since "Iron Man" (with the caveat that I simply skipped several flicks on general principle), I've finally found a true stinker in "Hancock."
I mean, even M. Night's "The Happening" kept me laughing throughout at just how bad it is in stretches and therefore, I must confess, made me enjoy watching it a lot more than I could have possibly expected, but this one is just a lifeless - and pretty much soulless - creation.
I suppose my opinion doesn't matter too much since Will Smith+the Fourth of July still=mad money in the bank ($41.3 million BEFORE the actual holiday), but that doesn't mean I won't sound off anyway.
So, who's to blame for making this an almost singularly unwatchable mess? There's plenty to go around, but it has to start at the top with Mr. Smith himself this time.
I've had my bones to pick with him through the years, but I never really thought it would come down to him not being enough of an asshole to make a movie work.
However, after spending his entire career crafting his image as the black guy so nice that even the late Jesse Helms (sorry, but he's on my brain after reading his obituary) might invite him home to dinner, he simply doesn't have the edge - no matter how hard he tries - to play a character as innately unlikable as the seriously flawed hero "Hancock." So what you get is Will Smith walking around looking surly for 90 minutes or so, telling all the jokes you've already heard in the trailer and no more of any note. What a waste.
I suppose I would have been able to forgive this if director Peter Berg and writers Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan had been able to choose which direction they wanted to go in with this one. Either unable or unwilling to turn the once-promising premise into a real satire on the nature of heroes and our expectations of them, they instead let the movie just get more and more boring as Hancock is rehabilitated, until it reaches a "twist" ending that will just make you want to scream "wtf!" at the screen (I managed to refrain, but it took a whole lot of self-control!)
It certainly felt like they just reached a point where, after putting together 70 minutes or so of footage that goes absolutely nowhere, they all huddled and came up with the most ludicrous way possible to bring this to its mercifully quick end (though sequels are definitely already on the way.)
Jason Bateman does his best to wrest some laughs from his part as Hancock's PR man, and indeed succeeds at a few points, but he's just fighting a losing battle here. Charlize Theron, however, just looked even more confused by this maddening flick than I was.
And, as much as it pains my heart to say it, Berg's direction here is almost as bad as the story itself. Unsure where to point his camera at many points, he simply lets it spin around at least 360 degrees, never for any apparent reason. And lest anyone who's never been here before think I just had it in for "Hancock" from the start, that's simply untrue. I have nothing but love for Berg's "Friday Night Lights" and even more so the nearly perfect TV show that followed in it wake. But "Hancock" is simply an awful movie from start to finish.
Even so, there are surely great things to come very soon in superhero land, with Guillermo del Toro's "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" coming next week and then a little movie you may have heard of called "The Dark Knight" right after that, so keep hope alive. Peace out.