Why I Didn't Like : 'Hancock' (2008)

Why do I do this? Read the Manifesto

"This movie derails itself so effortlessly you almost HAVE TO theorise that it was done deliberately".

Movie Pessimistically Appraised : Hancock (2008). First watched : 2008 (cinema). Subsequently rewatched : Yes. Review written (2016)

Score out of Ten : 5.5
Score out of Five : 2
Good or Bad : Bad
Recommend Watching : No

I hate this movie to the point that it makes me angry. Why? Because it's a fundamentally great idea, but it's squandered utterly. It's like giving a lamborghini to a teenager : it's noisy and glorious, until you extrapolate it to real life, and real people start getting hurt and actual damage is created, and you see people crying because they've lost loved ones. Then, when you try to explain that it arose from a funny idea, suddenly in a moment of too-late enlightenment, you shamfacedly have to admit that you actually never thought about the consequences....

.... allow pause for silence.

But how cool is this premise : a person with superpowers who sees utterly no desire to use them for good whatsoever. It's that simple. Not only is that a fantastic idea, but so is casting Will Smith to be that character. Moreover, the idea is given plausibility within the premise : with no compelling reason to use his powers, and utterly no reason to get an ordinary job, our main character becomes a homeless bum, a literal tax paid by the citizens of the city he chooses to slum in because he does whatever he wants. Which to be fair, isn't much. But it involves a complete lack of accountability and public drunkenness, safe in the knowledge that nobody has the power to stop him.

Absolutely fantastic. Add in Charlize Theron and this movie should be brilliant.

And it is.... sort of... for the first half of the movie, until the movie derails itself so effortlessly it can only be as a result of conscious effort, unfathomable though that might be.

"Rather than progress our character; or show him the error of his ways... or even have him revert to being a person who cannot relate to people... the movie decides instead that we need to know... his backstory?"

WTF? And this backstory isn't a lightning strike or a virus or a radiation surge... no. This movie introduces a complicated and entirely unnecessary Norse mythology background, depressing past lives and tragedy and repressed memories, overlaid with arbitrarily decided-upon rules, caveats and relationships that are not only entirely unwelcome to the story, but undermine it. And the rest of the movie becomes about that. Which is INSANE.


Not only is this a breathtakingly stupid idea, but to me it is completely unfathomable that somebody writing this story would not have realised that this entirely new story, being so tonally different to the beginning, would alienate the viewer. Hell, the people in charge of the marketing certainly realised the problem, and chose to limit all trailers to the comedic elements of the film, thereby enacting a complete bait-and-switch on an unsuspecting audience who then got Norse mythology and unrequited love thrown at them instead of an adventure comedy.

But what puzzles me is WHY? Why make a movie that completely stops being about its comdic social-commentary premise it started with and instead becomes a contrived melodrama? I don't understand this. Why not create the movie that the audience wants to see, based on the excellent premise you came up with? What changed? Who changed it? And why?

What's worse, the movie doesn't even play fair with its newly introduced "rules" that limit the power of our "hero" under certain circumstances. In order to maintain 'the twist' it believes will make it great (?), it disregards several instances where its own rule should have been enacted!

Words don't do my disappointment with this film justice. A shitty movie that's shittily executed is one thing. But for a movie to destroy itself for a concept that was this good that verges on unforgivable. If this was a rom-com and you wanted to do something crazy as a gamble, that makes sense. But this movie doubles-down on insanity when it had no reason to. And they somehow thought they'd get a SEQUEL to this?



Best Parts : Charlize Theron is pretty, the premiere was my first, and some of the instrumental cues by composer John Powell are good. First half of the movie is also entertaining.