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Stars: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, Eddie Marsan, Thomas Lennon, Johnny Galecki, Jae Head

Director: Peter Berg

An action-fantasy that unsuccessfully changes its horses in midstream. Hancock (Smith) has powers that make Superman look like a wimp. But he's also a lazy layabout, and everyone hates him because his drunken 'rescues' cost the taxpayers millions as he lays roads and buildings to waste.

Only stirring himself to save the odd life or two, a booze-sodden Hancock does just that for Ray (Bateman) when his car gets stuck on a level crossing. Instead of lifting Ray's car clear and soaring off to a safe place, Hancock wearily hurls it into the air so that it lands on its roof on top of other cars. This would seem to place Ray's life in fresh danger but, since he survives, he's grateful to Hancock, and determined to re-invent him in the public eye.

This involves a spell in prison, followed by a new image, complete with moderately subdued superhero suit.

The first half of the film, though foolish, is often fun. But Theron, as Ray's wife Mary, is obviously not just here to play the little woman. And when she reveals herself as a superhero with powers greater than Hancock (her partner decades before), the film goes absolutely crazy, embarking on a senseless orgy of destruction, totally losing its sense of humour and all-but ending in tragedy.

How anyone could have thought they could weld these two halves together beggars belief. It has to be said, though, that the film bears considerable signs of having been trimmed from a longer version, perhaps to achieve its 12A certificate.

A rather unrelaxed Smith is scarcely at his considerable best, and it's Bateman who breezily creates the only believable character. Oh yes, and there's the usual Brit actor as villain, in this case the mournful Marsan, from the Mike Leigh films Vera Drake and Happy-Go-Lucky. We hope he got a decent cheque.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour.
92 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 29 Jun 2008