Hancock: A Loutish Superhero Saves the Day

Even when he saves Ray’s life, people complain that he did it the wrong way. Ray thinks that’s crazy: Hancock is the barrier between decent folk and the bad guys, and though he isn’t perfect, the price we collectively pay for his services is more than reasonable.

The film is a witty defense of America as a rude, sometimes blundering but ultimately invaluable and benevolent force, although Berg, who took a lot of heat (mainly for being infuriatingly patriotic) for The Kingdom, doesn’t press the message so hard that everyone is going to notice it. And anyway, he seems to drop it in the second half.

Not for nothing does Hancock share his name with one of the fiercest patriots in American history; the movie also takes pain to establish the eagle (a frequently seen image) as Hancock’s symbol, even at the beginning when it’s merely a patch on his ratty ski cap. "I’m the only one of my kind," Hancock complains, by virtue of explaining his difficulties as the world’s only superpower. He has trouble getting along with others.

What others? How about the French? When Ray’s son is harassed by a French boy, Ray’s wife (Charlize Theron) points out that there is much more to the story. The bullying French kid — one of the best laughs the movie gets is when it simply tells us that the little punk is named "Michel" — is having a tough time at home, you see.

Maybe so, but his is the kind of excuse-making that Hancock can’t work up much patience for, and when he is made to endure group therapy and explore his feelings the mood is kind of dreary, kind of comical and completely pointless — much like a U.N. meeting.


Directed by Peter Berg

Starring: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman

3 stars/ 4

92 minutes/Rated PG-13