Sunday, March 29, 2009


Hollywood charmer Will Smith stars in this Hollywood blockbuster that shows promise in the premise - a man with superhero powers that is an asshole that no one likes. Hancock is a drunken bum whose Fortress of Solitude is a squalid trailer and who cracks sidewalks, wrecks trains and inadvertently challenges the city's budget whenever he tries to rescue someone.

Hancock's fortunes change when he rescues a PR man, who advises him to say "thank you" to the police, be more careful in his work and don a superhero costume. Therein lies the problem with the script - it uses the old Hollywood formula of "bum goes straight" (see "Trading Places", "My Man Godfrey" and a host of other films).

As it stands, "Hancock" plays out more like Kevin Costner's "The Postman" where a shave and a new set of clothes suddenly transforms the man from interesting bum to rather boring movie cardboard cutout.

What would have worked more effectively as a story arc for the film would have been to have the Hancock character keep his quirky crime-fighting ways and make him more of an anti-hero in the vein of "Dirty Harry". It's a concept that cries out for an R-rated, rather than PG-13, dark humored, violent and meditative treatment.

The other problem with the movie is, quite frankly, Will Smith. The man can certainly act, but suffers from Tom Cruise Syndrome - the uncanny ability to maintain an undercurrent of irritating charm even when he's supposed to be an asshole on screen. It's just part of Smith's dna as an actor and I just don't think this was the right role for him.

Instead, I would have cast someone who could play asshole really well, with no hint of sympathy to go for that anti-hero thing. Hancock is a kind of Amy Winehouse - someone who can be attractive and has an immense talent, but just happens to be a thoroughly unlikable wino. Gary Oldman would have the chops to do it. Heck, even Rod Zombie or rapper Fifty Cent might work in a role like this.

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