John Hancock woke up with a bump in his head and a lifetime erased from memory. Since then he’s walked around feeling alone, empty and pissing people off. He is so far removed from his purpose that people would rather have the one hero of their city sent to jail. He could have been laughable if his antihero pain wasn’t so disheartening. But one fateful day, he saves a spin-doctor who will give him the much needed attention, minus the heckles and insults, only to find out that learning the roots of his angst will be the most difficult issue he will battle.
The movie itself is bankable because of Will Smith playing his favoured I’m-gonna-save-the-world-on-the-4th-of-July role. Plunk South African beauty Charlize Theron in the middle and Jason Bateman on the side, you got yourself a team to reel in millions. We all know, they are crafty with their art. Furthermore, US Summer Film Fest is never complete without a film that depicts a world in need of saving – enter, Hancock. The premise is about a no good hero lost in unexplainable torment and a do-good PR manager wanting to return a favor.
Bankable for the shock and awe? Yes. However, anything apart from that is nothing but entertainment. Unlike the last summer blockbuster I chanced upon, this one didn’t leave me with any afterthought other than hopes of catching something better from Smith (He’s uh-maziiing in I Am Legend). The journey of the story is cantankerous starting with director Peter Berg’s annoying camera movements. Although the message is clear (audience participation by letting them feel every bump and shake through optical illusions) the idea becomes hokey. It comes off as strained and problematic as you are taken off focus instead of letting you drift through it. Smith’s drunken flying doesn’t mean we have to hurl, too. Excess is never really welcome.
On top of the director, we also had to deal with the writers, Ngo and Gillian. The dilemma with the script is it’s too existentialist. No problem analyzing philosophy, but an hour and forty minutes of brushing its principal argument makes existentialist discussion method less. The argument of Hancock starts to weaken just when it starts to intensify. The foundation of the film sells but it all got lost in translation after scratching just the tip of a complex idea. The story between the two remaining gods (Smith and Theron) is contrived to just their relationship that their existence was sidetracked by the apparent love story. They tried to make it different but in truth, it ended just the same with the rest of the hero-antihero narrative. The key is to be eloquent not derivative.
The sad part is, the good bits are all in the trailer. It didn’t let out any key points that can ruin the audience experience. And since the concept is so fresh – and I love it, by the way – one is led to believe that it will point to something that can equal or even exceed expectations. Until the second act starts to tank. Here, things just became … undernourished. Yes, there are laughs and some surprises but that’s about it.
It is tempting to say that it’s good basing from its entertainment value – maybe because it is. However, the conscious side of critical thinking of the premise identifies that there is a disconnect in the method of its madness.