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Can ‘Hancock’ End Will Smith’s Winning Streak?

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures


Since 1776, the Fourth of July has meant three things: barbecues, three-day weekends, and inexplicably enormous box-office receipts for Will Smith sci-fi vehicles of varying quality. Over the years, Smith's Independence Day–related bankability has proven so infallible that Columbia Pictures probably didn't think twice about giving the go-ahead for Hancock — his new presumed blockbuster (budgeted at $150 million) about a drunk superhero who gets saved by a kindly publicist — as long as director Peter Berg could have it ready for release next weekend. Could this inane decision really have been as stupid as it sounds? Maybe! The first reviews for Hancock are in, and they're not very good!

Weirdly, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter both enjoyed the film's premise (to reiterate, it's about an alcoholic superhero whose life is turned around when he meets an altruistic publicist), but were put off by shoddy execution and a screenplay that apparently makes very little sense. Then Variety's Todd McCarthy drops this bomb: "This misguided attempt to wring a novel twist on the superhero genre has a certain whiff of The Last Action Hero about it."

As you'll recall, 1993's terrible LAH heralded not just the end of Arnold Schwarzenegger's box-office winning streak, but also the end of the specific type of action movie it parodied. If Hancock is really as bad as it sounds, could it spell doom not only for Will Smith's sure-thing status, but also the superhero film as a genre? Probably not, but, still, this doesn't bode well for that screenplay for Aquaman Goes on a Bender you've been working on.

Review: Hancock [Variety]
Film Review: Hancock [HR]