You know, we’ve been taking a whole lot of new and interesting directions of late with the whole superhero concept, especially as it relates to filmmaking. We’ve had the whole Watchmen thing that’ll be coming to a head this March, we’ve had the Mystery Men (even without the Flaming Carrot), we’ve had Hellboy, and plenty of others.
But none have been quite so…mundane…as John Hancock, the main character fuelling Hancock.
Hancock, a boozy, antisocial wreck of a superhero, has all the powers you’d expect from a true dyed-in-the-wool-longjohns superhero, but with absolutely none of the social graces or boy-scout morality. Sure, he can fly, he’s bulletproof, he has superhuman strength, but he’d really rather be drinking. And even as he saves lives, he does so with a shrugging disregard to property damage, meaning the appearance of Hancock on any particular scene means someone’s going to get their life saved, but there’s going to be a LOT of cleaning up to do afterward.
But when Hancock meets Ray Embrey, the so-called “Bono of PR”, things start to turn around for him as Ray sets out to remake Hancock’s image from public safety hazard / drunken loser who’s above the law he enforces to dynamic public servant of justice.
One thing you might not necessarily expect, but will get, from a movie like Hancock is laughs. There is a surprising abundance of funny bits in Hancock, a development that caught me by surprise when I first caught it. I had never expected to see a superhero movie that made me laugh so much, but indeed, Hancock brought in the funny.
Not that Hancock didn’t also bring in the action–there was plenty of gunplay and lots of good old fashioned brawling going on in here. Often, the two intersected, and the fistfights brought plenty of laughs while the punching went on. For instance, keep your eyes open for when Hancock goes to prison. I haven’t seen a movie whipsaw so quickly between funny and fistfight in a long time.
Which isn’t to say there aren’t some problems here also–let’s be honest, this IS just another superhero movie. For crying out loud, there are so many of them that there’s a whole Wayans-esque parody named after the subgenre–Superhero Movie. We’re not exactly looking at a dynamic leap forward in filmmaking here.
But what we ARE looking at is a solid and well-done example of the concept. It’s funny, it’s action-packed, it’s literally everything a superhero movie should be and probably a little more. It’s definitely up there toward the top of the heap. But what you have to consider at this point is, is this a heap to be top of?
The plain and simple of it is, if you like superhero movies, if you like movies that make you laugh, if you like movies that get your adrenaline pumping, if you like any or all of the above combined, then you will enjoy Hancock. But if you’re looking for some kind of new and innovative experience, then you can just about forget about Hancock being anything more than a crashing disappointment.