Hancock's Second Half Hour
In recent years Will Smith has become Mr. Reliable, if he stars in a movie the chances are it's going to be pretty damn good whether it is a drama, comedy or action flick. But when it comes to "Hancock" it doesn't quite work thanks to a very uneven blend of comedy, drama and action making it often feel at odds with itself. Although not a great movie "Hancock" is not a bad movie and is vastly different to pretty much any other super hero movie which has hit the big screen recently.
In spite of having helped tackle crime, alcohol loving super hero John Hancock (Will Smith - I am Legend) is not very popular with the residents of Los Angeles as his help also ends up in expensive mass destruction. But when he saves the life of PR guy Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman - Juno) he find an unlikely ally who wants to help turn Hancock from public enemy No. 1 to hero of the people. The trouble is Ray's wife Mary (Charlize Theron - The Italian Job) doesn't want Hancock in their lives.
What for me causes "Hancock" to struggle is that it is very much a movie of 2 halves, some could even describe it as the first & a sequel all wrapped into one which at just 92 minutes is surprisingly short. With the first half of the movie understandably introducing us to Hancock and his dysfunctional super-hero status the emphasis is firmly on the comedy but then cometh the second half and the movie takes a much more dramatic somewhat darker tone. This wouldn't be an issue but the two halves fail to blend together and when a moment of comedy intrudes into the second half it feels very much out of place.
Giving credit where it is due the storyline, or should that be storylines in this 2 half movie, do differ to the norm. Hancock the character is a marvellous creation a complete opposite to your archetype super-hero as he causes more damage than good when saving the day and the introduction to him is masterfully crafted so that it's funny but not stupid as well as moody but not dark. Adding to this we have a possible romance which sort of leads us into the second half of the movie and a far more intense storyline develops which changes the emotional feel of the movie completely. Despite finding the blend all wrong I can appreciate that "Hancock" stands out when it comes to super hero movies and makes a change from all those stereotypical clones.
What also causes "Hancock" to feel completely different to many mainstream movies and may cause you to either to like it or dislike it is that it doesn't look like a Hollywood movie. From the camera work, the subdued pallets and slightly art house special effects it doesn't have that glitzy well polished sheen that most big budget movies deliver. Personally it took a while to get use to the less than polished look of the movie but then it does work and aids "Hancock" in standing out from the crowd.
Despite the movie not completely gelling Will Smith is still Mr. Reliable when it comes to his performance as Hancock. Combining everything from action through to comedy and then onto drama "Hancock" proves what a versatile actor Will Smith can be. The first half of the movie where the mystery surrounds who "Hancock" is and how the public of Los Angeles relate to him is purely magic and you can see the disdain in Smith's face in nearly every scene making it understatedly funny. Accompanying Smith is Charlize Theron who literally simmers as Mary, the wife of PR good guy Ray. Simmers is an understatement as in a character which again feels quite mysterious the undercurrent between Mary and Hancock fizzes beautifully throughout the entire movie.
But in many ways the real star of "Hancock" is Jason Bateman as Ray the instantly likeable PR guy who wants to change the world. It is such a likeable character, not to weak but not overly strong that it feels unreal. Plus the friendship which grows between Hancock and Ray adds too the overall enjoyment of "Hancock". Bateman who after seeming to have been banished to the back waters after his early career nose dived seems to have come back strong delivering performances which are honest and enjoyable.
What this all boils down to is that "Hancock" is vastly different to your run of the mill super hero movie. It's funny as well as dramatic, with enough action to keep you interested plus 3 great performances from the adult leads. But with the blend of comedy and drama never really working it does feel at times to be a movie at odds with itself causing it to feel very uneven when it comes to its two halves.