Will Smith's performance as Robert Neville, the last man on Earth after a virus outbreak in 2009, redeems I Am Legend from its familiar surface. Francis Lawrence, director of Constantine and various pop videos, lacks adventure in his dead-silence approach to urban isolation, but occasionally leaves a profound impression—the abandoned buildings of New York are now striking human-alien artifacts.
It's Smith, keeping Neville on the brink of sanity, that seems to be consciously trying to reconcile the great Soundgarden lyric, "Why doesn't anyone believe in loneliness?" Smith's contention with one hardship after the next may seem like a bummer, but his attention to human behaviour makes Neville's downtrodden everyman approachable. I Am Legend affirms Smith's value as a superstar.
It's the movie, particularly in its inclusion of some unnecessary elements in the final third, which sometimes drags its feet.