I’m more than a bird…I’m more than a plane
I'm more than some pretty face beside a train
It’s not easy to be me. — "Superman," Five for Fighting
As per usual, I am about three months behind the rest of America in my viewing of the latest and greatest. Will Smith’s superhero epic, Hancock, came to Pay-Per-View this week, and I spent part of my New Year’s Eve watching. It seems from what I read in reviews that I, unlike many others, did not approach the movie with preconceptions about Smith as a superhero. I didn’t really have any idea what the movie would be about, and I think that saved it for me.
It helped me see a love story cleverly disguised as an action movie. If you haven't seen it, and like being surprised, then this review is not for you.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Will Smith truly is a golden boy in movies. There were even parts to enjoy about the craptastic event that was Wild, Wild West. I am definitely a fan of his, even if some of his movies' storylines don’t hold me as tightly as the directors and producers hope they will. Whether playing a displaced Philly-born rapper, a balls-to-the-walls aviator saving the world, a Miami cop, a homeless, desperate father, The Greatest, or the last man on Earth, there is always a look, a phrase, a lift of the brow that brings Smith’s audiences close to his story, if not that of the movie.
Smith’s ability to say with a shift of his shoulders, a pursing of lips, or a slip of slang into a monologue that he’s one of us, he’s in it with us and for us makes him the hero of everyman, with or without super powers.
Charlize Theron is probably one of the most gorgeous women on the planet. Her beauty radiates from the inside out, and she plays her characters with an honest rawness that makes you want to identify with her. She’s the men want to be with her, women want to be her type of actress, I think.
The player in Hancock that really shone for me, though, was Jason Bateman. I’ve adored his boy-next-door quality since Hogan’s Family. Recently, he’s reappeared on the movie scene in Juno and The Kingdom, and caught attention in Arrested Development. It’s his subtle, almost quiet humor that captivates the audience. I laughed out loud at several moments, and for me, he quite literally stole scenes from Will Smith with a calm nod, a quirk of a brow, and a flat-out ridiculous statement that is ironically so fitting to the moment.
The movie itself is light on plot and back story. It would really suffer for that if not for the emotional reveal and end performance of Theron and Smith. John "Hancock" is a Superman-esque hero who has been living alone in Los Angeles for the past 80 years. He’s seemingly compelled to save people, despite increasing bitterness as to the lack of appreciation for his actions. When we first meet Hancock, he’s living like a street bum, working his way through an impressive amount of whiskey, and severely destructive in his methods to stop the bad guys. He also really, really hates being called an asshole.
Enter Ray, PR entrepreneur with a dream to make a difference in the world. Ray is saved by Hancock and is in turned determined to change the fallen hero’s public image. Which, he does in an adorably earnest manner that makes you want to stand behind him and golf clap. Predictably, Hancock is called upon to save the day, and is cheered for, returning him to the good graces of the finicky public. Also just as predictably, a bad guy he puts away escapes jail and is determined to take the hero out.