Hancock is a great example of how Hollywood can take a simple and yet brilliant idea, combine it with great special effects, great acting, flawless execution and totally fuck it up in the third act. I have been excited for this movie ever since I first saw the trailer for it months ago. It looked great – a totally unconventional, original take on the superhero genre with a large dose of humor. As every brilliant idea this one was simple that I was amazed no one did this before.
What if superman was real? Let’s consider this – we would have a guy who can fly, is virtually indestructible and he is strong enough to lift a car and fling it across the town if he wants to. But where does that car land? Does it destroy someones house? Does it demolish public property? What happens when our superhero accidentally bumps into an overhead road sign while flying over he highway? What if the sign falls down on the road, demolishing several cars and creating a gigantic pileup. What if he tries to toss a beached whale back into the sea and due to bad aim sends it crashing down into some yacht on the horizon?
Let’s face it – it is not easy to be superman. When you are indestructible, you take many things for granted – for example, if you get hit by a train, nothing will happen to you. The problem is that the collision with you will cause the train to come to a sudden stop. Thanks to pesky things like laws of physics this means that the wagons will still want to keep moving and will likely pile up or fly off in random directions destroying the tracks, the electric poles, and half the neighborhood.
Hancock may be a superhero, but his exploits cause incredible amounts of collateral damage. Most of it is un-intentional, or accidental. Some of it is just gutsy bravado stuff. The public hates him, the police thinks he is a nuisance, and local officials want him either out of town or behind the bars. On top of that (or maybe because of that) our hero reminds me of the characters people roll up for super hero RPG games. He used charisma/personality as a dump stat. He sleeps on the street, he is dirty, coarse, rude, has a really bad temper and an advanced alcohol problem. Not really a shining role model, or all American hero like Mr. Clark Kent. But because of that Hancock is almost tangibly more realistic super-powered vigilante than the ones we see in comic books. He could stop fighting crime, and saving lives but he seems to feel the need to help people. His intentions are good, but execution is usually less than perfect. In effect instead of chairing when he arrives people threaten to sue him, call him names and etc..
That’s until he meets a PR expert who convinces him to turn his life around, take responsibility for his actions and become a real superhero. To do that he has to willingly go to jail, be rehabilitated and change his ways.
To me this was a brilliant – pure gold. Will smith is excellent at playing the stubborn, rude, drunken, bad-ass Hancock. His road to become a real hero is both funny, moving and entertaining. They could have stopped here, and have a movie about a hard journey from a hated outcast vigilante to a beloved superhero and a role model.
If they wanted to do more they could have taken it even further. Perhaps having the reformed hero feel betrayed when he is blamed for completely accidental damages he could not prevent and people turn their backs on him once again. Or perhaps do something else – for a bit it seemed like Hancock and the PR experts wife (Charlize Theron) will have some sort of a fling which would probably be an interesting dramatic twist. But no.
Someone in Hollywood decided that this plot is not cinematic and grand enough. So in the third act the movie mutates into something completely different. And by different I mean crappy. Up to this point Hancock was original, funny, light heated but also moving. Past that point it is none of the above. It is a rehash of old ideas, and played out storyline. I’m not going to tell you what happens, but I will throw this out there. This new movie into which Hancock changes in the third act can be described by using classic “X meets Y” Hollywood pitch. It may be spolish so you will have to highlight the next line to see it:
Highlander meets My Super Ex-Girlfriend.
Yep. I’m totally not shitting you. Watch the movie and tell me I’m wrong. The mood changes, the tone is different and most of the humor is gone. It is a train wreck. In fact, I would recommend stopping watching the movie around the time when Smith and Theron are about to kiss. It all just goes down hill from there and the film becomes some sort of grotesque parody of itself.
Wasted potential. This could have been a good movie. In fact, I was kinda hoping that this will be the single star studded blockbuster this year that will not be a complete disappointment. As usual however, the trip to the movies leaves me disappointed and angry. Every time Hollywood fucks up a decent story I die a little inside. And yet I keep hoping that this next movie won’t be a complete dud.
To be fair, Hancock is not a complete disaster. The idea is great, and the initial setup is perfectly serviceable. I’d say the movie is actually worth checking out but you should keep in mind that the third act will want to make you want to claw your eyes out of your skull just to stop the pain. Watching Hancock is almost like watching Highlander and then Highlander 2 one after another for the first time. You suffer a similar kind of shock, disgust, anger and nausea. The difference is in magnitude – Hancock is much milder experience but it doesn’t change the fact that the ending sucks big time.
Oh, and sorry for the late post. They usually appear before noon, but I fucked up the date and time thing and did not have access to the internets to fix it all day.
[tags]hancock, movies, reviews, will smith, charlize theron[/tags]