"Smith delivers a characteristically subtle performance in a role which could easily have been played without a hint of self-awareness."

Everybody has bad days. Sometimes you just don't feel like getting up in the morning, and the last thing you want to do is go to work. Consider, then, the plight of the superhero. He's expected to be everywhere at once, fighting crime, saving lives, and helping old ladies to retrieve kittens from trees. Just because he has an innate ability, no-one stops to ask him if he'd actually prefer to be a journalist or a mild-mannered janitor. Will Smith's long-suffering Hancock would prefer to doze on a park bench with a bottle of whiskey in his hand, but people keep asking for his help.

In the circumstances, it's not surprising if Hancock makes mistakes. But maybe $9M worth of mistakes is still pushing it. He could also try being more polite - and maybe washing - and not turning up on the job smelling of booze. When he saves the life of public relations professional Ray (Jason Bateman), Ray sees the crowd bitching at him and resolves to help him change his image. But Ray's wife Mary (Charlize Theron) doesn't want him around the house, and there may be more to her resentment than meets the eye.

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Whilst it's not a top flight superhero movie and it lacks the ingenuity of the similarly themed The Return Of Captain Invincible, this still makes for a fairly entertaining way to spend an evening. It lacks a strong, interesting villain, yet it has more plot than I'd expected and, crucially, it features capable performances from the three leads.

Smith delivers a characteristically subtle performance in a role which could easily have been played without a hint of self-awareness. Young Jae Head is also impressive as Ray's son, who loves the idea of having a superhero for a friend but seems even more impressed by the concept of an adult who eats messily and thinks that bullies need a kicking. Children will love the first half of this film, though they may be confused by the change of pace in the second half, which adopts a rather more sombre tone.

Hancock's hour and a half is not the most exciting film you'll see this year, but it has some great moments, and overall it's a lot more fun than it could have been.

Reviewed on: 02 Jul 2008
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A public relations professional decides to improve the image of a dropout superhero who just can't get things right.
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Director: Peter Berg

Writer: Vincent Ngo, Vince Gilligan

Starring: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, Eddie Marsan, Jae Head

Year: 2008

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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