Will Smith plays John Hancock, a reluctant superman that doesn’t cling to props like capes, helmets, or masks to prove his outstanding abilities. He fights crime in Los Angeles, so his well-intentioned yet poorly executed deeds land him on TMZ-type gossip shows and gotcha clips on YouTube. If you stare at him too long he'll "break his foot off in your ass", and one of his favorite super powers is shoving heads into rectums. (A tactic he threatens once, and makes good on another time shifting Hancock into full on Wayans brother territory, but dumber.) Hancock also suffers from some sort of amnesia, unable to remember his life prior to 1928. Who was he? Where did he come from? Is he the only of his kind? But instead of brooding, he hits the liquor.
By choosing to shoot in a shaky hand-held style, director Peter Berg aims for semi-realism in Hancock. This was fine in The Kingdom and Friday Night Lights because the settings were small-town
But what's most disappointing about Hancock is Peter Berg and writers Vince Gillian and Vincent Ngo's sidelining of any subplot that acknowledges Hancock's blackness. In fact, we are only teased with it by discovering that Hancock's amnesia came from a severe beating he received while on a date with a white woman in 1928. The implied lynching is glossed over, missing an opportunity to give Hancock a little human lining among the previous 80 minutes of shoddiness. Elsewhere, the filmmakers simply pander to the audience's expectations of what a black superhero would be like, playing Ludacris's "Move Bitch" and the theme song to Sanford and Son as the soundtrack to Hancock's rescue missions. The only time Hancock's heroism gets the serious superhero treatment is after he's been reformed from his previous jivin' ways.