Starring Will Smith, Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron. Directed by Peter Berg
Running Time: 92 mins
Rated: Rated M (violence and coarse language)

What a good idea -even if a little bizarre. With a welter of Marvel Comics heroes proliferating these years, all with their mutant origins, all with their costume flair, here is a superhero who is on the streets, drinking heavily, susceptible to insults but not caring what people think of him - and initially resistant to a costume. But, save the residents of Los Angeles he does, whether they appreciate it or not. His methods are ultrarapid but sloppy, smashing and damaging buildings and cars and trains as he swirls villains around much to the exasperation of the police and officials with disgruntled citizens and TV pundits wanting him to be sued. He can't even land in the street without causing large potholes.

But our superhero is played by Will Smith, one of the most genial presences on screens these days. So, how could the plot develop?

When Hancock saves a heart-on-sleeve do-gooder (literal with logos) PR man Ray (Jason Bateman), Ray sees a golden opportunity and persuades Hancock not only to clean up his act but go to gaol in the hope that the authorities will miss him and he will be called back into action.

Meanwhile, Ray's young son idolises Hancock but Mary, his wife, (Charlize Theron) obviously does not. For a long while, we might be wondering why Miss Theron has decided to play a devoted housewife but she does get some opportunities later (to make up for Aeon Flux).

There is quite a nicely surprising twist in the latter part of the film and the plot perks up with some interesting complications. There is also a final shootout with LA thug bank robber (Eddie Marsan).

Lots of tongue-in-cheek humour, plenty of effects and action, plenty of spoof of the more serious superhero films. And it works nicely even if the explanation of the powers comes late in the film. The early part has the Los Angeles people simply accepting the uniqueness of Hancock and taking for granted his interventions. Luckily, at the end of the final credits, we are relieved to find: 'This is a work of fiction'!

Sony PicturesOut July 3

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting

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