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A Hancock and bull movie

Raja Sen | July 11, 2008 17:32 IST

'Stop shaking the camera, Tobias.'

It's what Jason Bateman, used to vain attempts at controlling a character named Tobias in the brilliant Arrested Development, ought to have firmly told cinematographer Tobias A Schliessler.

I mean, sure we get that handheld films are fun to watch and all, but there's a time and a place for everything -- and there's a reason Bryan Singer and Sam Raimi aren't putting out-of-focus shots out there.

There, that had to be said. Now, the film. Peter Berg's Hancock has a great premise -- that of a superhero more given to alcohol than even Tony Stark; nope, this guy's a true-blue, stubble-sporting bum -- and the most perfect of leading men for the job, but thanks to a rather melodramatic back-story and ending, it's eventually a disappointment.

Except for Will Smith [Images], of course. Even when resembling a particularly repellent piece of trash and flying in the air while guzzling liquor from the bottle, the man positively reeks of charisma. Always a fine actor, Will usually steers clear of the unsavoury characters, but this film demands him to threaten a geriatric woman with menace, and he manages that pretty good too.

Which is why the first half -- despite a few jokes stretched way beyond the hilarity point -- works quite well as Will abuses kids and trashes automotives of various kinds. But after he saves Bateman from certain death, things take a turn for the banal.

Bateman, playing the credibility-defying character of a good public relations man, wants to tone Hancock down into a likeable superhero, an exercise which leads to the film's finest line, one spoofing a certain comic legend who just happens to be the Norse God of Thunder. Heh.

Save that, there isn't anything much. Hancock bonds with Bateman's kid and scarfs down the meatballs made by his wife, Charlize Theron [Images]. Theron, who constantly shoots sledgehammer-subtle 'ohmygodwehaveapast' looks at Smith, is the one who eventually crashes this film with a flimsy, ludicrous backstory and just plain inappropriate acting. And the Bollywoody climax just plain sucks.

As said, it's an interesting concept, and Will Smith on board ensures full coffers -- and at least a few loud laughs. And every now and then, you glimpse that Peter Berg might be playing against type, especially when the opening scenes shoot the grizzled Hancock in tight close-up, almost like a spaghetti western. Yet the spaghetti's finally confined to just the meat sauce, and when Hancock shaves -- with his fingernails, cleverly enough -- the film goes south and never quite stands upright again.

Ah, maybe the big lug just needed a couple more bottles'a bourbon.

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