I Am Legend


Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Written by:Mark Protosevich, Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan
Released: January 3, 2008
Grade: B-

I’m not really sure how much of the film’s plot I should reveal.  For once, the marketing team have gotten it right and not given the entire story away in the film’s trailer.  I’ll therefore make my overview rather vague…

It is the year 2012 and Robert Neville (Smith) is the only man living in New York City.  The entire population has been wiped out.  How did this happen?  Why is he the only survivor?  Is there hope for the human race?  These questions will be answered but not all at once.  You’ll have to be patient…

During the day, Robert roams around the city.  He broadcasts a radio message in the hope that someone is listening.  He goes down to his local video store to find something to watch.  He hits golf balls down the city streets.

On sunset, Robert’s relaxed demeanour changes.  He retreats to his house and covers the doors and windows with thick metal coverings.  He will anxiously listen to the strange noises outside and wait for the sun to rise.

This concept is very similar to the Danny Boyle movie, 28 Days Later (released in 2002).  In that film, a young man (played by Cillian Murphy) woke up in a London hospital after having been in a coma for some time.  On walking out into the streets, he found that everything was deserted.  He would spend his time trying to figure out what had transpired and whether any other humans were alive.

I like the idea of both films and it’s an interesting concept.  In I Am Legend, director Francis Lawrence (Constantine) has used special effects to create an amazing setting.  It’s scary to see New York City look the way that it does.  The billboards are torn and faded, the buildings look run-down and grass is growing everywhere.  It’s now a ghost town that was once home to around 10 million people.

I also wish to praise the way in which the story is told.  Instead of giving us the answers all at once, we learn more about the situation and the troubles which Robert faces as the film progresses.  The best scene is one where he looks for his lost dog in the darkened corridors of a bank.  You’ll feel like you’re in Robert’s shoes – timidly stepping around every corner whilst nervously flashing your torch in every direction.  There’s something that he sees that gave me quite a fright.

The film does have its fair share of weaknesses.  For starters, there’s not enough action.  Too much time is spent trying to illustrate Robert’s fragile mental state.  With no human contact in 3 years, we see Robert talking to himself, to his dog and even to mannequins in a store.  I was saying to myself in the cinema “yeah, I get the point, he’s going crazy, can we get to the part where something starts to happen?”  I’ve also got a few concerns about the finale which seemed rushed and “convenient”.  It can’t have been that easy.

I’m not a big Will Smith fan (I think I say that in every Will Smith film I review) and I’m not convinced he’s the ideal person for this role.  Still, I can’t deny the fact that he’s a massive drawcard.  I Am Legend took in $76m in its first three days when it opened last month in the U.S.  This makes it one of the biggest openings of all time.  Not bad for a film with only one major actor in it.  In the eyes of Warners Bros. Pictures (who financed the film), he is indeed a “legend”.