Monday, July 14, 2008

Hancock *1/2


Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman

Apparently it's Will Smith's world and we're just living in it.
Or so seems to be the fuel behind "Hancock"; a summer movie that should've been hamrless, explosive fun, but becomes so condescending to the audience that at one point you start wondering why did you even buy the ticket to see it.
With the idea that everyone on Earth loves Smith (G-d forbid if you don't), the story has him playing John Hancock, an immortal, invincible man who has the physical traits of a superhero, but acts like a junkie.
He spends his days sleeping and drinking. Whenever a crime occurs he comes to save the day, but detroys trains, cars and infrastructure in the process.
Villains and victims hate him and people calling him an "asshole" becomes a sort of motif in the movie.
This gets to the point where the city of Los Angeles demands he is incarcerated for damages.
Enter Ray Embrey (Bateman) an idealistic publicist who sees in Hancock what nobody else does: a chance for redemption.
In the best Hollywood way he reforms the, not so heroic, hero and turns him into what comic books tell us he should be like, all to the dismay of his wife Mary (Theron) who thinks Hancock can only bring danger to her family.
But there is a dark past to Hancock, one that holds the key to the past he doesn't remember and that sinks the film into dramatic territory it can't pull off.
"Hancock" begins with promise as it explores the side effects of being a superhero. Who hasn't wondered how the cities recover so fast after final battles?
But as you watch the film you also begin to realize that the whole hero thing becomes a lazy metaphor for what it's like to be a celebrity nowadays.
Hancock isn't liked and he often does more wrong than good, but the media pays so much attention to him that he becomes an easy target for martyrdom.
Watching him struggle with issues that "normal" people deal with in private, you will remember all those starlets who plague the press every day with their scandals.
Like them, Hancock wallows in the mysery that comes with being "different", as if that is justification for his irreverence.
Shot with what can be described as reality show aesthetics, the cinematographer loves doing awkward reaction shots, particularly with Theron that announce plot twists ages before they come (and don't really help the actors look good, except for Bateman who owns the film).
The sad part is that the film as a whole could've exploited this and become a parody of sorts, it only works when it's being silly fun, but it takes itself too importantly and deals with the sort of double morality that is inherent from its very casting.
You know when it starts that while you may dislike Smith at the beginning, there's no way the feeling will remain the same by film's end.
But director Berg couldn't care less about the audience and knowing that the film would make a profit regardless of how incoherent it turns, he inserts subplots that drag and feel like lazy backup plans.
The themes "Hancock" deals with have been explored in much better films (like "The Incredibles" for one) and while its attempts at emotional depth come off as good intentions, sometimes all we really want from our heroes is that they save us.

1 comment:

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