Will Smith, Charlize Theron & Jason Bateman.
Written by Vince Gilligan (& Vincent Ngo).
Directed by Peter Berg.
Hancock is a drunk who also happens to have extraordinary powers. His total disregard for public property means that every time he nabs the bad guys, he creates damage of some magnitude – which hasn’t helped his public image. When he is afforded direction and some decent publicity from Bateman, Hancock attempts to become the hero he was destined to be. The first half of this film is a clever alternate take on the superhero story, but when the film takes a dramatic tone shift in the second half, one is left wondering what the filmmakers’ intentions were. For what could have been an entertaining action comedy quickly becomes a messy hybrid that is ultimately disappointing.
Half Nelson (2006)
Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps & Anthony Mackie.
Written by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck.
Directed by Ryan Fleck.
Ryan Gosling is one of the best young actors working today, consistently delivering excellent performances. He was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for Half Nelson, where he portrays a drug-addicted teacher in an inner city school. He is not a miscreant and it is apparent he cares for his charges, taking a particular interest in the plight of one young student (Epps). But when she discovers him in a stoned stupor inside the school locker room, it soon becomes clear that these two people need to help each other. This subtle film is shot in a candid documentary style and unfolds slowly, revealing a depth of character that is rarely seen in a Hollywood film, no matter how ‘independent’.
Iron Man (2008)
Robert Downey Jr, Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow & Jeff Bridges.
Written by John August.
Directed by Jon Favreau.
Downey Jr is absolutely perfect as Tony Stark, a billionaire industrialist whose weapons have wreaked destruction across the globe. After delivering a weapons presentation to military personnel in Afghanistan, Stark is kidnapped by terrorists and coerced into building them a missile. Instead, he builds an iron suit with which he busts out of his cave prison in spectacular style. When he returns home with an altered mindset towards his work, he incurs the ire of business partner Bridges. This highly entertaining film, based on the Marvel comic, features great performances and some knockout CGI – for once used to enhance the story rather than destroy it. Kudos also go to actor/director Favreau for at last filming some action scenes that we can actually follow (take note Paul Greengrass and Mike Bay).
(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and will post weekly thirty second film reviews on this blog.)