In another summer of blockbusters, 'Hancock' looked like it could be one of the most interesting. Will Smith playing a hard-drinking, belligerent phenomenon in need of a makeover, with 'Arrested Development's Justin Bateman the spin doctor willing to do it and Charlize Theron the woman in the middle. It had the potential for great drama, action and comedy all rolled into one. If only.
Los Angeles' resident superhero Hancock (Smith) is also public enemy number one. He causes mayhem when he tries to do the right thing, takes no guff from mere mortals and seems to care less about how he appears to anyone. But when he saves the life of idealistic PR man Ray Embrey (Bateman), Hancock reaches a crossroads: Ray offers him the opportunity of public salvation but with Hancock nothing is ever simple - especially when he meets Ray's wife (Theron).
If your appetite for superhero movies means that you'll even watch 'Howard the Duck' repeatedly, 'Hancock' will leave you feeling very hungry. It's rushed, it's too forgettable too often and it never pulls at the heartstrings like it could.
Like so many before him, Smith is a movie star when he could have been an actor and after showing how far he can travel in 'I Am Legend' he's back in a cul-de-sac here, a master of timing and charisma but doing nothing he hasn't done before. A move away from the big movies and into more adult drama could be the best thing that's ever happened to him onscreen.
Theron's previous experience of this kind of thing was the looked-great-but-not-much-else 'Aeon Flux' and you think she would've learnt her lesson and stayed in the grown-up movies. Here her character is woefully underdeveloped, flailing around in a love triangle that director Berg takes down before he's fully put it up. Her onscreen husband Bateman does a good job with the little he has - we deserve to see him far more in cinemas and in bigger roles.
There are a couple of good laughs and effects but, just like its central character, 'Hancock' is confused as to what exactly it's trying to be to people. Its legacy will include the €4.99 DVD sticker before long.