Once upon a time, American action films existed without explosions. Maybe they weren't truthfully even action films yet. Maybe they were actually Westerns or war pictures or spy thrillers.
Then, somewhere in the '80s, the movie landscape shifted, and "action" became its own genre, regardless of whether it also included other genre elements. Die Hard was no longer a cop movie, it was an action film; even James Bond films became action movies, with less emphasis on Bond's cunning and skill, and more focus on...
Which leads us to this latest version of I Am Legend.
Yeah, okay, Mike, I know that you think the first half is good, that it captures the novel's sense of quiet and desolation. Well, I'm going to argue you on that shortly, but for now let me just say this:
Any genuine feeling or pace the first half builds up is shattered by a final act that not only betrays the title of the film and the source material, but ends in some of the most egregious explosions ever employed by any action film.
Yep, I'm categorizing I Am Legend as an action film, not science fiction or horror. It has a few bits of science, which feel neither particularly real nor fantastic; and despite a few jolts, its primary concern doesn't seem to be to terrify its audience.
What we are presented with up front is a car chase, no more than 15 minutes into the film. Robert Neville (Will Smith) and his trusty canine sidekick Sam are in high-speed pursuit of a herd of deer through a deserted and overgrown cityscape. Neville drives like a madman, careening his muscle car around corners, through construction zones and past obstructions as if he's barreling after bad guys....