By Fred Topel | Image property of Columbia Pictures
Hancock is no surprise to me, because I fully expected it to be awesome. Other people may be surprised by how deep it is but I already knew the concept and how the filmmakers were approaching it, so it completely lived up to my expectations.
For a PG-13, it's pretty dark and politically incorrect. They use their one F-bomb but otherwise there is some pretty creative vulgarity so they don't wuss out on Hancock's personality. They have great un-PC fun with big budget destruction.
It's Peter Berg style action, meaning it's the usual handheld thing. I still don't buy that that's "realism," because in real life my vision doesn't bob around when I move my head. However, it is the style of familiar genres applied to this material, and that totally works.
There were some rough effects but the ideas were so much fun it didn't matter. And what do I know, maybe that is what a flying person would look like in real life? Maybe all the Superman movies are wrong. The less flashy effects totally blend in. You take it for granted that Will Smith is dragging a car by hand.
The humor comes in having normal conversations about ridiculous situations. There are no punch lines per se, but just having fully explored conversations about this material is fantastic. And some of Hancock's funny threats pay off literally.
It's a really brilliant PR job too. The publicist's plan for winning Hancock's the public's good graces employs the best of Dale Carnegie and positive manipulation. Real celebrity handlers might take a cue from this.
Best of all, it's dark. The film does not cop out. It goes there.
This is the most heroic character Will Smith has ever played. I'm talking Joseph Campbell here, but this is a character who actually has to sacrifice to fulfill his destiny. It's not just jokes and bravado. Even Pursuit of Happiness was only stubborn inspiration. Hancock is the real hero's journey.