Knee-jerk review: "Hancock"

1. Outstanding.
2. "I been drinking, bitch."
3. Ironman might be the better traditional popcorn kind of big summer action movie, but Hancock is far richer. It feels more important, more substantive. There are a lot of unexpected narrative and thematic layers here, the sorts of things that stay with you long after the lights come up.
4. Inexplicably, many critics are giving the movie bad reviews. Some think it's a sort of backlash against Will Smith, the suggestion being that it's time for him to have a flop. Luckily, moviegoers don't seem to be buying into that nonsense. The film made over $100 million in its first five days and will surely benefit from strong word of mouth.
5. A lot of critics are focusing on a whopper of a second act twist. If you're expecting Ironman or Batman or any of those other superhero "mans" then, yes, the twist can be hard to swallow. It changes everything. But it also kicks the movie into a higher gear that raises complicated questions about heroism, love, fate, and self-sacrifice. It's that twist that makes it so special. Without it, it's just a clever little superhero riff.
6. When it comes to movie stars, nowadays there's Tom Hanks and Will Smith and then there's everybody else.
7. It is a little hard to believe how Los Angeles' crooks think they have can actually tangle with Smith's Hancock (who can fly, has superhuman strength, and can't be hurt with bullets) and win. That inexplicable attitude may be the movie's weakest element...
8. ...As is the head-up-the-ass thing, which is funny but utterly impossible.
9. As a sidenote, Charlize Theron has never been sexier.
10. A lot of superhero movies seem studiously interested in portraying "how superheroes would really work in our society." But the way Hancock handles that puts those others movies to shame. It's very easy to imagine a superhero being threatened with lawsuits and arrests or relentlessly second-guessed and attacked in our selfish, coddled society. You saved my life, but you wrecked my car! It's also easy to see how that sort of reaction might make for one very miserable, misanthropic superhero.
11. Director Peter Berg is becoming the next Steven Soderbergh, willing and able to take on any and all genres. Berg's films are always interesting and far better than you might expect: the black comedy Very Bad Things, the action comedy The Rundown, the gritty drama Friday Night Lights, and now Hancock.
12. Nice career resurgence for Jason Bateman. He's solid as always.
13. Go see it.

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