This is the third film I’ve watched this year that has been directed by Peter Berg (the others were Friday Night Lights and The Kingdom). Unfortunately Hancock is comfortably the weakest of the three. Existing in script form since 1996 as a 226 page beast called Tonight, He Comes this film has been through the development wringer in a big way. There are comparison pieces all over the net but if you are interested in the process between what is supposedly the initial script and the final film then the best is probably Rob Hunter’s article from Film School Rejects.
The final product is a film riven in two by a large plot twist. The first half of the film has the eponymous super-powered chap tear-arsing around from boozy night to botched rescue causing havoc and managing to befriend a PR guru and his family. It’s funny, irreverent and well paced. The second half of the film is none of these things. It has plot holes all over and crowbars an unlikely villain into the piece in an attempt to contrive a conventional resolution. A massive wasted opportunity and I’d have positioned it as a mis-step in the career of a promising director but Hancock has Will Smith box office levels and managed to easily make its money.