It doesn't happen in many movies, but there's something I like to call the "drop-off point" to describe when a movie turns bad very suddenly. The drop-off point of Hancock occurs at the beginning of the third act, and I can't describe it fully without spoiling the ending, but I will say the movie gets bad precisely when the ghetto superhero Hancock (Will Smith
) gets thrown out of a window onto a car. From thereon, as fast as Hancock can dive off a building, the movie plunges deeper and deeper into the depths of stupidity and failure.
That's disappointing, because before the drop-off point, Hancock is surprisingly good. The movie's best as a comedy and worst when it tries to get serious. Hancock is a tragically misunderstood, alcoholic super human of sorts; he's what would have happened to Superman if the Kents were unstable parents. Bulletproof, capable of flying, and strong as an ox, Hancock possesses all the physical traits to be a superhero but lacks any of the heroic characteristics. Everybody in Los Angeles hates this guy, because the damage he causes while nabbing criminals costs the city more to repair than the criminal acts themselves. Article continues below
Fortunately Hancock saves the life of Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman
), a public relations professional who offers to save Hancock's public image. Embrey orchestrates a clever trick to redeem Hancock: Let the super hero get taken into jail only for the crime rate to rise until the police summon him for assistance.
For a movie that's a blatant mockery of the superhero genre, that's a pretty smart plot. So the horrendously stupid twist that occurs in the third act will make you supremely disappointed. This act explains the origins of Hancock -- that is, why he has superpowers in the first place -- and the story is so ludicrous it strips the movie of all redeeming value. Suddenly a minor character, who we barely even care about, becomes a major character deeply involved with Hancock's past. It's a sudden shift that attempts to make Hancock more tragic and the story more serious, but it's entirely unwelcome. What was wrong with a sardonic, confused super hero? Why fix something that isn't broken?
To add to that, bringing in another major character at the last minute deprives the movie of the opportunity to bring in a strong villain. What's a super hero movie without a good villain? In this case, it's a guy flying around, throwing around cars, and defeating people in one punch. There's hardly any conflict in the movie to get you deeply involved with the characters, which is why the movie should've stuck with being a dark comedy rather than suddenly crossing over to melodrama.