The Red Right Hand
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HANCOCK
He Is Saving The World Whether We Like It Or Not

Director
Peter Berg

Starring
Will Smith
Charlize Theron
Jason Bateman

The following review contains certain spoilers. If you watch the first ten minutes of the film, you should be able to piece together what I'm about to reveal... unless you're one of those cinema-goers. You have been warned.

Without any hints of origin, we are introduced to John Hancock [Smith], a bedraggled hero cursing the city of Los Angeles with his lack-lustre attitude, drinking habits and destructive tendencies. It's no surprise that the general public see him as more of a nuisance than a help. Having saved one particularly sappy (typically Californian) individual from a speeding train, Hancock gains a nauseatingly fuzzy, optimistic PR agent, Ray [Bateman]. Ray's first suggestion is to show the people of Los Angeles that they need Hancock, whether they like him or not; so when the district attorney issues a warrant for his arrest, Hancock begrudgingly agrees. Naturally, the crime-rate sky rockets and it isn't long before everyone is begging for the return of the misguided super-freak. It would appear the positive effect of the American reformation and penal system works extremely well, as Hancock arrives at a bank robbery sober, clean shaven and clad in a leather jump-suit. It's from this point (around the forty minute mark) that the film goes completely downhill.

The original concept was to create a foul-mouthed, reckless superhero - red kryptonite style - in a world where destructive actions have real consequences (almost like the opening scenes of The Incredibles). Early on there were hints that this would be an R-rated movie, rife with profanity, lewd suggestiveness and all sorts - there was even discussion of statutory rape. Unfortunately, such challenging issues have been reserved for the likes of the stupidly promising The Dark Knight, which is a damn shame as Will Smith's performance is astonishingly good... but more about that in my highlighted character segment.

Spoiler bits, kids.
So, how does the story end? Well, they have an exceptionally original concept that works pretty well but attempting to hide the twist has been done so badly that anyone should be able to guess it. Every scene with both Ray's wife, Mary (the academy-award winning Charlize Theron playing a housewife in a blockbuster flick? Yes, that's perfectly credible, nothing's going to happen here), and Hancock are littered with these tacky 'knowing look' exchanged between the two. Ooh, what could it mean? Some hidden past? But how could that be? Hancock is immortal, surely he's never met Mary before - give me a break! If you watch the bleeding trailers you can clearly see Theron standing in front of stormy clouds looking stern; if you're in any way confused, allow me to explain. Berg and Theron are now guilty of playing into a stereotype - while Mary is pretending to be a simple hausfrau who can't open jars, she wears jeans and t-shirts but the second she reveals who she is, she starts flying around with a lot of attitude, mascara and what can only be described as a black shawl and a bra-like outfit. The ending is equally frustrating and stupid; sure, Smith makes it credible, but it's not enough to save the entire flick. I'm not going to go into detail about the ending because it's too dumb to explain; as previously stated, parts of it are quite commendable but the idea that Hancock just accepts who he's become and learns to love the little shits he's supposed to protect. OH! And defacing the moon! For crying out loud, the fecking moon!

There are, however, many positive elements that should not be overlooked. The combined entertainment power of the visual effects, the creditable score and notable action scenes are all worth a mention but more importantly than that, the humour works exceptionally well - there are quite a few genuinely funny moments scattered throughout. At the end of the day, this film is just a disappointing and disposable action flick that, unlike I, Robot or Independence Day, has little replay value. As ever, I await a director's cut DVD to solve these problems.

Release Date:
2nd July 2008

The Scene To Look Out For:
Yep, more spoilers
Defacing the moon!! Yes, I'm back on this point again. Of all the ending scenarios that irritated the hell out of me, this was the worst. Ray has this idea to create a logo (essentially a heart within a heart) to be applied to big-company brands that make active contributions to charities and third-world plight - the pitch given in the film makes it sound a little far-fetched. But as some sort of act of consolation and thanks, Hancock stains the moon with this tacky bloody logo! I'm all up for stupid, far-fetched nonsense in Summer blockbusters but that's just insulting - it's the sort of arrogance that continually gets the US in trouble with the rest of the world. IT'S THE BLOODY MOON! YOU CAN'T STAMP SOME HIPPIE LOGO ON IT! ARGHHH!

Notable Characters:
Every single cast member in this film is pretty useless and I simply didn't care much for any of them. Smith, on the other hand, gives another underrated yet deservedly enjoyable performance. I Am Legend received a lot of flack from both the public and critics but you can clearly see it was Smith's Cast Away, his depiction of a man's isolation and loneliness and he did fantastically well! Pursuit Of Happyness, again, not an overly great film but Smith's performance was captivating. It's a shame that Will Smith is trying to move on from a stereotypical image and create a $200 million action film that actually says something (Hellboy II: The Golden Army and The Dark Knight come to mind again), only to be held back by studios and executives.

Highlighted Quote:
"I gotta wonder what kinda bastard I must have been, that nobody was there to claim me. I mean, I'm not the most charming guy in the world, so I've been told but... nobody?"

In A Few Words:
"Thoroughly convoluted and wasted opportunity, saved only by another outstanding performance by Will Smith"

Total Score:
6/10


Matthew Stogdon