All ye DC Comics and Marvel aficionados need to reorient your conception of superheroes. In the constantly meandering labyrinths of social transactions where the nature of man is redefined everyday our good old superhero hasn’t remained unaffected. Gone is the emotionless face wearing which he would clinically execute the fall of his super foes. Now they feel the love, get affected by loss & rejection and also get drunk & roundly abused. Are these the super guys we have grown up with? I am not complaining but merely marveling at the imaginative twist that the movie makers have come up with.
Will Smith has come a long way since his hip hop days. Back in the mid eighties to early nineties he was better known as The Fresh Prince, the lead vocalist of the group DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. His rendition of “Summertime” still remains one of my favorite songs. The movie’s Big Willie, Mr. Hancock is a thousands of years old fellow whose flying skills can put Superman to shame. And while he is not busting the villains, destroying property worth several million dollars in the process he is busy emptying bottles of whiskey and taking a nap where he wills (pun intended). Besides defying gravity he is also bullet proof, knife proof and hit proof. In short nothing affects him physically. And here is the twist! The superhero goes ballistic whenever he is abused. How human! Due to his flawed crime fighting abilities and a foul mouth the media, the police and finally the public turns against him.
This is the age of celebrities who conjure up a hyped image of themselves aided and abetted by media manipulators euphemistically called image consultants. In walks Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) who becomes eternally grateful to Hancock for saving him from being run over by a train. Sensing an opportunity to put his PR skills to test he proposes an image makeover to Hancock which involves surrendering to the police, spending some time in the jail and waiting for the police to call him back because crime is bound to rise in his absence from the streets even as the public property is safe from him. There are some interesting shots of the jail. One of them is of the self purging meetings on the lines of those of Alcoholics Anonymous. After consistent refusals to open up, a single line comment “I am Hancock and I drink and stuff” is enough to be reciprocated by loud and encouraging applause. Soon Embrey’s plan begins to bear fruit and Hancock is back in mainstream circulation and this time without the previous opprobrium. At this time everyone can happily live ever after but what about twist number 2?
Mrs Embrey (Charlize Theron), as it turns out, is a super heroine as well and to top that she is “technically” Hancock’s wife since the like of them were made in pairs. The cynical Hancock suddenly finds that his love quotient has taken a northward swing. Only the object of his affection is torn between the loyalty to her husband and the love of three thousand years. The raison d’etre is twist number 3. The invulnerability of the super couple goes down when they come closer emotionally. In some ways it is a Greek tragedy where love is doomed despite best intentions. The resolution of this mess is what rest of the movie is all about. Its entertaining, its different and its fun. Go watch!