Will Smith’s Hancock had a great premise… but unfortunately, the greatness stopped there.
Saw Hancock. Like a lot of people, I thought the premise and concept was great. And like everyone, after I was the movie I was incredibly disappointed. As always, spoilers abound.
1 | The twist that ruined everything
Hancock was such a disappointment because it’s a brilliant premise — a misanthropic superhero who everyone knows about and can’t stand — with absolutely no story. The movie was rolling along — Hancock is bad, Jason Bateman wants to change his image, he goes to jail, he gets out — and then they threw in a completely nonsensical twist and the story spiraled completely out of control.
2 | “The trailer had all the good parts.”
People always complain that some movies put all of the good parts in the trailer… but with Hancock, that was 100% true. The only thing that wasn’t evident from the trailer was just how much cursing there was going to be. One family even walked out of the theater. It was a pretty liberal PG-13 on the language front. Will Smith can really get away with anything.
3 | I saw the twist coming… sort of?
Early on, I speculated that Charlize Theron was going to be the bad guy. I didn’t speculate that she was going to be the superhero ying to Hancock’s yang who sometimes makes him lose his powers and sometimes is the reason he gets killed and sometimes goes and sees movies with him. Whatever.
4 | Stick to the rules
The biggest problem after the Charlize twist is that all the rules are thrown out of the window. Will Smith goes back and forth from bullets hitting him to bouncing off. His powers don’t disappear until he… and we… learn that Charlize makes his powers start disappearing. Like I said about Wanted, in superhero movies, you can make your universe have whatever rules you want… you just have to clearly define, and abide by, those rules.
5 | There was no strong bad guy
The problem with establishing Will Smith as a real world superhero was that they floundered on finding a bad guy to take him on. They ended up picking a mediocre trio of the one-handed bank robber, the guy whose head he shoved up another guy’s ass, the the guy whose ass had that guy’s head shoved into it. And fortunately for them, they decided to attack Hancock during the first moment in 80+ years where he was vulnerable. Lame. So, so, so, so lame.
6 | If there’s a sequel
If there is a sequel… and I feel like the movie was such a train wreck that there may not be… I’d be interested to see what they do about a villain. Because they really, really need a quality bad guy to make the Hancock character work. So they don’t have another convoluted twist where this time it turns out Jason Bateman’s dog or something is also his immortal co-superhero.
7 | Michael and Rita
The Arrested Development reunion between Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron was cool. And she was special in both!
8 | Refunds?
There were problems with the projection during the movie. The audio cut out about five times during the bank robbery scene. And people complained… but, honestly, no one seemed all that upset.
9 | The Bateman logic jump
The whole angle with Jason Bateman’s altruistic plan didn’t make any sense. Like, why was a PR guy pitching that to companies for no particular reason? Wouldn’t he have been fired? That’s just one of many, many, many logic jumps that made the movie indigestible.
10 | What did Will Smith think?
According to a friend who was at the party after the premiere, even Will Smith acknowledged that Hancock turned out disappointing. He got on the mic and said, quote, we did the best we could with the movie. And then he totally redeemed himself by calling DJ Jazzy Jeff up to the stage and performing a bunch of their old school classics.
11 | Wasting a premise
After the movie, we were debating what movie before Hancock was the biggest waste of a great premise. I said Semi-Pro. Others believed it was Dick Tracy. The most interesting call? Another Will Smith super-expensive summer blockbuster: Wild Wild West.
On the 11-point scale, I give Hancock