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So... I Saw 'Hancock' Last Night...


No, that wasn't necessarily a sign of loathing, but rather one of disappointment.

I'll keep this as short and sweet as I can.

The filmmakers had the opportunity here to do something relatively refreshing. They started the race off on the right footing, with surprising bursts of energy, but then tripped all over themselves with about 40 minutes left until the finish line. Sigh...

I'd much rather have been underwhelmed from the start than to have my intrigue build for half of it, only to see it quickly tumble during the other half.

So, yes, this was rather disappointing and I think it will go down as one of Will Smith's glorious failures, much like Wild Wild West, which actually did make money, but left a lot of fans and critics wanting. Even Will Smith himself was quoted as saying that Wild Wild West was one film of his that he felt was a failure.

Make Hancock number 2. However, I'd say that this is one failure that a lot of other actors would probably like to have.

I suppose there's a compliment or two in there somewhere.

Will Smith was Will Smith. I certainly wouldn't call the role a complex one - although the character really could have been much more challenging and thus interesting with a few script changes. But we get Big Willie as Big Willie in a summer spectacle. Nothing more nor less. It doesn't always work, but I've come to expect only so much out of Will Smith's performances, so I wasn't entirely disappointed.

The rest of the cast (Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman) are watchable, although Charlize sometimes looked a little lost in her role - at times it felt like she was in a different movie altogether.

The direction was often uneven and questionable. I wasn't sure what director Peter Berg was hoping to evoke with all those shaky-cam movements, extreme close-ups, zooming in and out, and other camera gimmicks he utilized that just seemed really innapropriate for the material. I felt like I was watching Traffic, or NYPD Blue. I think every film he's directed has been shot in this similar handheld camera style. None of it worked here.

The film just isn't quite sure what it wants to be, especially in the second half, where it shifts sharply between several genres, moods and tones, often leaving me baffled, or throwing my hands up in the air in frustration at some of the illogical choices that were made. It just simply self-destructs during the last 30 to 40 minutes, after the big reveal that actually isn't that surprising since you could probably figure it out long before it happens, even if you hadn't read it previously on this blog. Berg needs a lesson in subtlety.

It's clear to me that the production team just wasn't sure what to do with that last act, which felt like a mosh pit of nonsensical sequences scrapped together in a hurry. And at just around 90 minutes in length, I couldn't help but think that there was probably a lot more to the initial script than the version they decided to give us, which is rather unfortunate, because, what we're fed is more of the same kind of triteness that insults the audience. I remember thinking just how gullible and foolish they must think the audience is - let's just throw in a bunch of loud, chaotic sequences, forget logic, forget reason, forget every interesting idea we developed in the first half and instead just go with lots of booms and bams, intercut with some overly sentimental scenes, and of course, Big Willie-isms, and then tie it all up with a ridiculous ending. No thanks! I didn't buy it!

However, apparently, others certainly did, making the assumptions of the producers unfortunately correct, because at the end of the film, the packed theatre my friend and I saw it in errupted in applause!!!!! We looked at each other and could only shrug and simply agreed that they must have seen a different movie than we did.

But, of course! It's Will Smith. He's in the fluke zone as Variety's Anne Thompson wrote recently - meaning, he can do no wrong... audiences will love him no matter what. He can video-tape himself sitting on a toilet for 2 hours, and crowds will still show up to pay to watch him. Despite all the negative reviews that it's received and will likely continue to receive, the audience applause that followed last night's screening is a clear indication of how well the film will do financially. He's in the fluke zone. How long can he stay there? Who knows. But he'd better not get too comfortable.


So, yes... disappointing. Lots of potential for something that could have been great, but they blew it! Starts of fairly well... falls apart in the end.

I'd give it 2 out of 5 stars.


  1. Sergio said...

    Yeah you hit it on the head! It starts off so well then halfway through, after THE BIG TWIST, it goes completely off the rails. This is a project that's been in development for at least a decade under it's original title, Tonight He Comes, and I would sure love to read the orginal script. No doubt there's been an army of screenwriters who have at one time or another worked on this screenplay, another example of Hollywood messing up a good thing. Without a doubt there was A LOT of last minute re-editing and re-shooting because I think they filmmakers got scared that Smith's character was too unlikealbe and tried to more him more sympathetic. It's not the WORST film he's done. There's still Wild Wild West and especially Bad Boys II, the putrid foul stench of a movie that will go down as one of the absolute worst films of the decade. But at best it's an ambitious failure that didn't have the courage of its convictions

  2. The Obenson Report said...

    I think an ambitious failure describes it best. I do wish they had stuck much closer to the tone of the original 1996 script draft.

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