I just finished watching the aforementioned movie. Without a doubt that has to be the best acting I have ever seen from Will Smith. This movie is fantastic: it has seat of your chair action, heart-wrenching drama, a compelling storyline that suspends disbelief just enough to make it believable, and as usual for a Smith film, a touch of comedy to keep everyone on their toes.
For those of you who have been under a rock here is the synopsis (by Warner Bros. Pictures):
Robert Neville is a brilliant scientist, but even he could not contain the terrible virus that was unstoppable, incurable, and man-made. Somehow immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City and maybe the world. For three years, Neville has faithfully sent out daily radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. But he is not alone. Mutant victims of the plague — The Infected — lurk in the shadows… watching Neville’s every move… waiting for him to make a fatal mistake. Perhaps mankind’s last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood. But he knows he is outnumbered… and quickly running out of time.
**** Warning! Spoilers ahead!****
The movie, based on the book of the same name by Richard Matheson, deals with how the supposed last man on earth becomes the stuff of legend, but where the movie draws its strength is the portrayal of the psychological effects of loneliness and separation on the human psyche.
Smith, of course, plays the role of Neville, the last man on earth. His portrayal in this movie is unique in that the audience can watch as the solitude induced insanity slowly creeps over him. Smith’s ability to portray this emotional instability could be seen in his interactions with the mannequins he posted at a movie rental store and how he talked to and treated his dog, Samantha. Of particular note is two occurrences: where he is out driving for the day with his Sam and out of the corner of his eye sees one of those mannequins at the end of the street. Neville throws the SUV in reverse and he starts screaming at the mannequin, who he named as Frank earlier on. With his assault weapon pointed at Frank, Robert began screaming, “If you’re real Frank you better say something!” After multiple attempts to discern Frank’s state of being, Robert begins shooting at the mannequin until it falls over. This is what it is like for humans to be without other human contact for so long. His portrayal of this rare state of being was inspired.
This is a movie with very few peers, and everyone should see it. This movie may very well propel Smith into legendary status on its own.