I Am Legend


I Am Legend (PG-13 for violence and intense action) stars Will Smith plus a computer-altered portrait of a decaying, grassy New York City populated only by Robert Neville (Smith), animals, and hairless, pale ghouls cursed by a cancer cure gone horribly wrong.

Neville's Robinson Crusoe position on the newly-grassy island of Manhattan is intriguing enough to carry the first half of the film, but after an hour it's time for the plot to move. And move it does. Neville, a scientist, is trying to find the cure for the virus that kills humans or turns them into residents of the ghoulag. Yet science by itself is not the hero here; it turns out that faith is essential.

Early in the movie Neville drives past a truck displaying a poster, "God still loves us." Later, trying to comprehend the physical or spiritual demise of six billion people, he declares, "There is no God." Rumor has it that the filmmakers tried several endings and settled on one suggesting that there is a God. That's what a mysterious woman who shows up with her son tells Neville: "He has a plan. He sent me here for a reason." She even thinks the end of civilization has some benefits: "The world is quieter now. It's easier to hear God."

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Neville for three years has been weighed down with the belief that only he can save mankind. In a penultimate scene Neville shouts at the attacking ghouls, "You are sick and I can save you! Let me save you!" It turns out that he can't, all by himself, but he becomes Christ-like in one sense, and a combination of science plus faith eventually makes the difference.

The summary just given might give the wrong impression of I am Legend. It's a good action flick, not a dramatic theological tract: Smith plus action, not evangelism, amounted to $76.5 million grabbed at the box office on opening weekend. But the separation of church and screen has never been complete, so note well: Hollywood producers and presidential candidates both know that a little bit of religion helps an audience feel satisfied.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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