Owain Paciuszko 06/07/2008
The thrust of Hancock's rather neat concept is a foul-mouthed, grumpy, alcoholic superhero getting his image re-worked by a public relations manager, and misrepresentation is something that blights Hancock not just as a character but as a film itself. Trailers would have you believe that this a scrappy, funny, edgy big budget comedy; alas all those inspired comic moments (Hancock slinging a mouthy child into the stratosphere, de-railing an entire cargo train by accident) are over within the film's absolutely entertaining first half hour. It is a testament to Will Smith's charm and ability that his Hancock is an instantly appealing and likable character despite being rude, lazy and drunk; his performance is the huge grace-note of the film, carrying it along when the plot flounders.
Hancock's relationship with his P.R. manager (Arrested Development and Teen Wolf Too's Jason Bateman) is another highlight of the film, their back-and-forth is smart, witty and easy-going; alas this is also side-lined out of the plot by the film's halfway-point gear shift. It is a huge shame that Hancock seems unhappy with its own concept, seemingly ditching everything the trailer promised by the 45 minute mark and quickly tumbling into an effects heavy, rather standard superhero redemption flick. It also doesn't help that there's a very unconvincing storyline involving Hancock and Bateman's wife, played by Oscar winner Charlize Theron, that ends up intermingling awkwardly with the extremely serious third act denouement.
As always Will Smith ensures that this is a watchable and entertaining film, and Peter (The Kingdom, Friday Night Lights) Berg's direction keeps things feeling fresh even when the plot does become a tad routine. It's just a shame that the audience seems so willing to embrace the curmudgeonly superhero concept and the film seems so eager so ditch it and just create another spandex clad, wise-cracking hero.