Reviewed by: Taran Gingery
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|Director:||Peter Berg—“The Kingdom,” “Friday Night Lights”|
|Producer:||Ian Bryce, Akiva Goldsman, James Lassiter, Michael Mann, Jonathan Mostow, Richard Saperstein, Will Smith|
|Distributor:||Sony Pictures Entertainment|
“There are heroes. There are superheroes. And then there’s…”
Social outcast. Loner. Misunderstood. Drunkard? All of these you could expect to hear about any superhero, from Batman to Superman, at some point in their lives—except the last one. But that is exactly what John Hancock (Will Smith) is when we first meet him—a drunk, rude, abrasive, brash, and coarse man with superhuman strength, the ability to fly, immortality and automatic healing.
Hancock is quick to any scene of crime, yet, in spite of that, the citizens of Los Angeles hate him, and not only because he is crude and downright mean, but because his entrances and exists usually wreak more damage then the crimes themselves. But there is more to Hancock then meets the eye, and what Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) sees is a man who is lonely, insecure and who desperately needs to change his public image. As a PR specialist, Ray sees himself as just the man to do this. This proves harder than he thinks, especially with strong opposition from his own wife Mary (Charlize Theron), and soon Hancock finds himself forced to deal with his own emotional demons of the past, while trying to improve his future and take out the criminal masterminds of the present.
There is actually a lot to admire about Hancock. At first he seems to be a man beyond salvation. But he shows a yearning to be accepted by the city, to improve his own flaws, to save lives, to find true friends, and he also shows a lot of respect to Ray, simply by his earnestness and his sincere attempts to change. Sure, the change comes gradually and many mistakes are made along the way. But, the point is, he is learning. And the final messages of the movie ask us what would we be willing to sacrifice to do the truly heroic thing. Ray is, also, mostly a model of perseverance, patience, understanding and good will (his wife tells him. “You see the good in everybody—even if its not there.”)
Unfortunately, there is also a lot of negative content in this film, the strongest being the language, which mostly comes from Hancock. He calls everyone extremely crude names, insults and mocks people, makes a sexual advance on a married woman (he is strongly rebuffed), and often reacts violently when he is called a specific word (***hole), one that is thrown around by nearly everyone, including small children. He also uses the f-word once, and the s-word and God's name numerous times. He is constantly drunk. Again, this is all somewhat exaggerated to show what kind of person Hancock is before he changes, but it seemed a bit much to me. Mary also wears cleavage-revealing attire during several scenes.
There is also plenty of violence. Hancock rains havoc on buildings, cars, streets, trains, tornadoes, even whales, no matter what he is doing, intentional or not. He is shot at with all types of guns imaginable, all leaving him, but, not necessarily the shooters, unharmed. A man's hand is severed, but non-bloody. A character is smashed in the face, stabbed in the shoulder and shot, and another character is also shot repeatedly, both with somewhat bloody results. A visual gag involves one man's head being shoved up the rear end of another man, something we did NOT need to see.
It's unfortunate that all of this content had to be there, mostly to evoke laughs from the audience it seemed, and I feel a lot of it could've been toned down to be less offensive, while still utilizing Will Smith’s natural comic acting to get the effect across and not downplaying Hancock's change of heart.
Speaking of Will, he is excellent as Hancock, with his usual swagger and one-liners and moments of true emotion, while Bateman is fine as Ray the “straight man,” and Theron manages to make Ray's slightly schizophrenic wife sympathetic and weird at the same time. The special effects are good, nothing special, and there are surprisingly few action scenes. There are several genuine laughs in the script, and the story is original enough, with a few quite interesting twists. It's up to you to decide if Hancock is really one of “God's angels,” as they call his kind, or not, which is probably the only spiritual reference in the film.
All said, “Hancock” is sure to be another Will Smith blockbuster, and there are several positive messages that discerning audiences can find, but the excessive foul language, violence and general negative content seems too much for me to recommend it (only for older teenagers and adults).
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
Comment to above from non-viewer—…“Other common epithets include b****, d***, and even one uttering of the good ol’ f-word.” …“If you can get past some bad words, it has a great message, and after all it's Will Smith.” I didn't realize Will Smith was the exception that Christians should consider when raising the question “is the what God would want me to watch.” If we would step up and stand for the truth like we're supposed to (and the Bible DOES to teach us to refrain from the use of abrasive language…). America wouldn't be in the poor moral lowering situation it is. Hollywood is one of the biggest entry points of Satan into our lives, and we sit back open our wallets and pay them to bring it to our living rooms and children and family. Let's stand up for The King like He stood for us.