Academy Award® nominee Will Smith (Best Actor, The Pursuit of Happyness, 2006) stars in this action-packed comedy as Hancock, a sarcastic, hard-living and misunderstood superhero who has fallen out of favor with the public. When Hancock grudgingly agrees to an extreme makeover from idealistic publicist Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman, Juno), his life and reputation rise from the ashes and all seems right again--until he meets a woman (2003 Academy Award® winner Charlize Theron, Best Actress, Monster) with similar powers to his and the key to his secret past.
Hancock turns the standard superhero movie inside-out: The title character (Will Smith) can fly, has superstrength, and is invulnerable, but he's also a sloppy, alcoholic jerk who causes millions of dollars in property damage whenever he bothers to fight crime. When he saves the life of a public-relations agent named Ray (Jason Bateman, Arrested Development), Ray decides to improve Hancock's image--starting by having Hancock surrender himself to the authorities and go to prison for his lawless behavior. The idea is that once he's in prison, the crime rate will go up, and people will start to realize Hancock might be of value after all. This is only the first act of Hancock--from there, the movie takes several clever turns that shouldn't be revealed. Hancock isn't a great movie (among other things, director Peter Berg overuses close-ups with a hand-held camera to a degree that may cause motion sickness), but it is an extremely entertaining one. The script, which holds together far better than most superhero movies, has a propulsive plot, good dialogue, some compassion for its characters, and even an actual idea or two. The spectacular action at least gestures towards obeying the laws of physics, which actually makes the special effects more vivid. The three leads (Smith, Bateman, and Charlize Theron as Ray's wife, Mary) deftly balance the movie's mixture of comedy, action, and drama. All in all, a smart subversive twist on a genre that all too often takes itself all too seriously. --Bret Fetzer
Stills from Hancock (click for larger image)