Channel 5: Sunday 4 October, 7.10pm
It’s not a bird or a plane. It’s an LA drunk with a chip on his shoulder. Will Smith is Hancock, a deadbeat superhero who’s despised by media and public alike. Living in a clifftop caravan full of junk (including 600 subpoenas for civil suit damages), Hancock is in serious need of an image consultant. (This is Los Angeles, remember.) Enter Jason Bateman and his wife, Charlize Theron.
And midway we’ll learn why the Monster Oscar-winner accepted such a seemingly insignificant role, when the story turns serious in a completely crazy way. For director Peter Berg, this is quite a comedown after The Kingdom. Because this is an identity-crisis comedy concept that would need a much better script and a plot much less dumb to make the fantastically selfish and foolish behaviour funny.
Maybe if the characters were cartoon figures, they’d seem less dislikeable. But then, of course, we’d realise that this idea – tormented superheroes with human failings – had been done before, brilliantly, in Brad Bird’s The Incredibles. Hancock can’t even cope with credible. There are a couple of really big laughs, but if you’ve seen the trailers you know that already.
As wildly inconsistent in tone as a Bollywood movie, it soon enough disappears into a CGI abyss of increasingly messy FX. And it says something about modern Hollywood that the two heroes are a self-pitying alcoholic and a good-hearted publicist, though exactly what, I’m not entirely sure. In any case, any satirical intent is buried in phony schmaltz, and it’s weak-kneed stuff compared to Team America: World Police. Nowhere near as funny as My Super Ex-Girlfriend, either.