Tuesday, July 15, 2008

HANCOCK - Jesus and the American Hero

I saw Will Smith's lastest movie, HANCOCK, this afternoon. It seems a very conventional movie. It has the makings of a provocative exploration of love and power, duty and self-denial, saving and serving, along the linbes of Smith's recent efforts in PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS and I AM LEGEND. I won't spoil it by describing the plot, but it forfeited that promise by devolving into a stock and quintessentially American version of heroism, salvation, and saviors. HANCOCK plays off love/vulnerability/relationships/powerlessness against duty to others/invulnerability/strength/solitariness. Drawing close in love meant forfeiture of super powers and thus of the call to be a savior of others. Saving and serving, which belong together in Christian theology are played off against one another here. Love and power are split apart and never the twain shall meet, so it seems. It is almost as if Jesus and John Wayne face off in this film, and John Wayne emerges the real hero.

There are some useful insights in identity formation and self-denial in service to duty, but they ultimately serve, from a theological perspective, a distorted identity and finally unhelpful duty. I mourn for what might have been! LEt me know what you think!