Can someone explain how this high-concept dud nabbed a coveted Fourth of July opening? It seems to have gone straight from pitch to screen: An alcoholic superhero with an attitude problem (Smith) gets an image makeover from a publicist (Bateman) he saves from a train accident. The hero learns to compliment police officers on the “good job” they’ve done and works harder to avoid damaging property while taunting bad guys. Hancock may aspire to say something about a culture so cynical and lawsuit-obsessed that it’s lost the capacity to appreciate a Good Samaritan. But given that the movie itself is a cynical, slapdash moneymaking machine—yes, that’s Akiva Goldsman, screenwriter of Batman & Robin and coproducer of this film, glimpsed in the boardroom scene—it mainly succeeds in trashing the ideal of summer-movie entertainment.
Problems begin in the opening sequence, which shows Hancock drunkenly flying against what appears to be a rear-projected backdrop of downtown L.A. (One might think that Peter Berg, whose last directorial effort, The Kingdom, involved blowing up the Middle East, could at least stage competent action.) Smith and Bateman seem curiously humorless and sedate, and Charlize Theron, as Bateman’s wife, spends much of the movie practicing a single look of consternation. The Pygmalion antics can’t take this sucker to feature length, so it makes a halfhearted attempt to establish a backstory. The window for a sequel is open, if someone wants it, but considering that Hancock barely has 90 minutes of ideas, it’s likely this is one superhero the world will have to do without.
Cast and crew