Paragon Pundit Hero Movie Review #5

Paragon Pundit Hero Movie Review
#5: Hancock

After going over some past superhero flicks, it’s time to look at a more recent superhero movie. That takes us to “Hancock” starring Will Smith, Jason Bateman, and Charlize Theron. The film was released by Columbia Pictures in 2008 and is available on DVD in both the theatrical (PG-13) and unrated editions.

The film is about a superhero named John Hancock (Smith). He has superpowers, and he isn’t afraid to use them, and he doesn’t care about the consequences of his powers. When bank robbers lead police on a high speed chase, a hung-over Hancock crashes through road signs to get to the “bad guys” (and the debris destroy the chasing police cars), crashes through the fleeing vehicle, and then tears up the highway to bring the SUV to a halt. He then picks up the vehicle and carries it through the city, smashing into the corners of buildings in the process, before impaling it on a building spire for the police to retrieve. Millions of dollars in damage, and that’s all before breakfast. But Hancock doesn’t care, just like he doesn’t care about any of the other complaints made about him when he does good deeds.

That changes when a PR spokesman named Ray Embrey (Bateman) is saved by Hancock after his car is pinned in the middle of a railroad crossing in front of an oncoming train. Hancock flips the car out of the way, then stands in the way of the train to hit it head-on and force a massive derailment. While the crowd is screaming complaints at him, Embrey tells them that they should be thankful that Hancock saved a man’s life. He offers Hancock a chance to change the negative perception and make him respected and respectable again, even though his wife Mary (Theron) disagrees.

We get a chance to see some of the nonchalant ways Hancock has carried himself. For instance, showing up in front of children half-naked to treat himself to some ice cream after putting out a fire. Or him rescuing a beached whale by grabbing its tail and tossing it a half-mile into the ocean. To change that negative image, Embry convinces Hancock to turn himself in to the police for his abuses and let him sit out in jail as crime escalates and wait until the police call for his return. This leads to Hancock hesitantly going along with the plan, including enduring jail, anger management courses, and working on better handling of his abilities.

When he does return at the behest of the city, we see a clean, sober, and clean-shaven Hancock sporting a new designer costume and with greater control over his powers and a more politically-correct demeanor. The city, of course, loves the new look. But not everyone likes the change.

We spend the rest of the movie learning more about Hancock and his past. We find out how he got his name, where he got his powers, and why Mary seemingly doesn’t like him. And at the same time, we find out what Hancock’s real weakness is, besides people calling him a certain word that ends with “hole”.

This movie actually gives a very realistic version of a burned-out superhero and the personal struggles of living with superpowers. When you’re faster than a bullet and more powerful than a locomotive, you can’t really let yourself go in certain “intimate” situations, as the unrated version of the film demonstrates. And taking off and landing are not as easy as you would think, especially when you’re flying in at supersonic speed, never mind drunk.

Sadly, the general story begins to deteriorate after that reform takes hold. The spectacular battle that you see in the trailers where even Mother Nature joins in isn’t the climactic battle. And what causes that spectacular battle is needless. The climax of the film is far from spectacular, although the resolution is very heart-rending.

Will Smith plays the role of the burned-out Hancock quite well, and Jason Bateman plays the eternally optimistic PR spokesman and hero-reformer as though it was his second nature. Charlize Theron’s role as Mary, though, seems a little out-of-place at times. As a housewife, she does the role well, but it’s when the story takes that unexpected turn (you’ll know when that is) that you will see that she seems out of her element.

This is definitely not the kind of hero movie you would want kids to see, but for the grown-up heroes, I think you’ll find it quite enjoyable.

Capes: Only 4 capes out of 5 here. The new costume is good, the bad guy is weak.
Cheese: Very realistic look at superpowers in use keeps the cheese quality down to American (0).
Books: 3 out of 5 books. The general story is good, but the climax needed more work.

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