Monday, November 4, 2013

Character Spotlight- John Hancock- Hancock (2008)

**This post contains spoilers**

Muhammad Ali, a fast talking cowboy from the old west, a love doctor, fearless fighter pilot, who fought to save the world from aliens, and let's not forget about Robert Neville aka the "last man on Earth." Looking back on his track record, it's hard to believe it took Will Smith so long to finally portray a superhero.

But John Hancock wasn't your typical superhero. You know the type, the selfless White Knight in shining armor, who fights for the people, risking his life against nasty evildoers in nail-biting fights to the death. No, Hancock was a lonely, miserable, and rebellious jerk. Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America? Those guys took pride in doing the right thing. For them, it was an honor to use their gifts for the greater good.

Hancock on the other hand, sulked and whined, recklessly jumping into action, without thinking about  consequences or the safety of innocent people. Although, as the movie develops, you understand the reasons for Hancock's misery. Invincible, immortal, one of a kind.....and he's an outcast. It's impossible for him to fit in, make friends, form a bond with that special someone, and no matter what, Hancock's actions draw pointed fingers of contempt, not clapping hands of praise.

Enter Ray Embery (Jason Bateman). As a professional PR man, Ray cleans up Hancock's image by forcing Hancock to answer for ignored court appearances and fines linked to his paths of destruction. Hancock serves a self-imposed prison sentence, and upon his release, Hancock is viewed as a true superhero. But Ray's wife, Mary (Charlize Theron) jeopardizes  Hancock's newfound happiness. Why? Mary is an immortal being with superpowers.

Of course, Mary's reveal leads us to the twist of Hancock having to leave Los Angeles to preserve his immortality and superhuman strength. Long story short, as the last of a dying breed, Hancock and Mary can't exist in the same living space without weakening each others powers. Decades ago, Hancock saved Mary from an attack, and this attack caused Hancock's amnesia. So Hancock  is forced to leave Los Angeles forever in a dramatic and over the top exit.

From where I sit, Hancock squandered a chance to create something special. With more time to develop, Hancock could've evolved into one of the more unique superheros on the big screen. Instead, they jumped the gun with one film, so they could rush into Hancock's "real hero" transformation. You have Will Smith, one of the most talented and wildly popular actors of our generation portraying Hancock, give him more time to find himself, as he struggles to overcome more pitfalls and hurdles.

I'll always remember Hancock as a wasted opportunity, but it's hard to ignore Will Smith's fantastic performance in the leading role. Not as good Ali or The Pursuit Of Happyness, but a top notch performance from Smith. Also, there's a nifty and funny little scene before the long reel of credits, where Hnacock is standing in a street full of cops, while confronting a panicky robber in his official Hancock superhero gear. Oh, and whatever you do, don't push Hancock's one button by calling him an "asshole."

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