Dr. Robert Neville (Will Smith) is a man with a very unique and very dangerous situation. Once hailed as a savior to the human race, Dr. Neville now finds himself wandering the streets of New York, alone, save for the company of his trusted dog Sam.
In the new film “I Am Legend”, Will Smith finds himself in a world gone mad when a cure for cancer has mutated horribly and reducing infected populations to dangerous mutants who roam dark places destroying all they encounter.
With the back-story of the film told largely through flashbacks, it is learned that Dr. Neville was close to finding the cure for the outbreak, but when the virus became airborne, New York City was to be quarantined via Presidential order.
Unwilling to leave the city, as he is convinced a cure is to be found there, Dr. Neville, stays behind, and three years later is the sole survivor in a city that has become an overgrown and desolate wasteland.
Robert has become a creature of habit, as he hunts for food and useful items during the day, and in keeping with a broadcasted message, he appears at the docks every day in hopes that someone has heard his message and will be waiting for him.
Robert also amuses himself by renting movies at a nearby store and has positioned and named mannequins throughout the city in order to have some since of companionship and conversation, but it is clear that the years of isolation are starting to take their toll.
When night falls, Robert and Sam take refuge behind the reinforced shutters of their home, as dangerous bands of light sensitive mutants wander the streets at night, forcing him to stay inside until the safety of the morning sun arrives.
Robert gets a sense of hope, when he sees some potential from a new vaccine he has developed. While testing it on a captured mutant does not deliver the desired results, it does show promise that at last progress is being made in finding a way to eliminate the threat of the plague once and for all.
When a series of unexpected and surprising situations arise, Robert is forced to examine his priorities, and prepare for the ultimate confrontation if there is to be a future for humanity.
The film is the third film version of the book of the same name as Vincent Price started in “The Last Man on Earth”, and Charlton Heston gave a memorable turn in the classic “Omega Man”. Smith is solid in the role of a man driven by his desire to complete what he has started no matter the cost, even though he believes that humanity has already perished. He mixes pathos with humor, to create a sympathetic though flawed character that is unlike many of his likeable everyman roles.
At one time years ago, this film was considered as a vehicle for a pre-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it deftly mixes drama, suspense, and action to create a very memorable experience.
My biggest issue with the film was the finale, as up until that point, the film had been pacing itself to be a 2hr plus film, and it seems as if the filmmakers decided to wrap things up quickly, as the pacing of the film rapidly changed gears for what in many ways was a standard pat ending, that does not equal the quality of the first ¾ of the film.
That being said, if you can overlook the very disappointing finale to the film and focus on the solid premise and work of Smith, then you might find this one of the years more enjoyable films.
3.5 stars out of 5