I Am Legend: Christian movies in diguise?

i-am-legend-poster.jpgOne thing that I didn’t expect from I Am Legend was its Christian underpinnings. Not to go on a spoiler-bender, but I had to write about this since it seems to have escaped the reviewers (though it does appear here, here, and here)

Like other in-disguise Christian apocalyptic movies (The Matrix, Constantine, etc.), we have a character who seems burdened with seeing the earth through its possible last days being consumed by (soul eating?) demons, determined to finish us all off, and then being confronted with redemption choices of how to cope with his failings.

Though not as apparent as “The One” of The Matrix, Will Smith’s Robert Neville sees himself as sole savior, yet is scientifically devoid of faith. Confronted with a post-apocalyptic earth, he uses his military-induced training in combination with his scientific mind and principals to solve a problem he was part in causing. Here’s the spoiler, so be careful if you read on…

At around 2/3 through, his meeting with Anna brings him into confrontation with his apparent lack of faith–she finds explanation for her hope for the future through “hearing God directly.” Neville seemingly cannot cope with this explanation, rejecting Anna’s hope for finding the rest of human survivors by using odds and calculations to prove her visions wrong and, thus, leaving him to his solitary fate outside of his worldview of a desolate island of Manhattan. As Anna finds her colony, we see a church in the background beyond the gates…lo is the fate of the believer (and the non-believer) spelled out. Yuk.

I can appreciate the shadows-on-the-wall view I have of this; this Christian symbolism is cloaked and soaked (“you’re soaking in it!”) to the point that I might be hallucinating, but coincidences are considerable and the message is clear–faith can take you beyond demons and your own scientific trappings. Faith brings the ability to move forward beyond science’s cold restrictions. But it’s the heavy-handedness that kills me–Smith’s abandonment of hope at the end? the glorious opening of the gates of heaven imagery? the (post-coital?) breakup over a discussion of faith? It drips with subtle Judeo-Christian punishment/reward for the non-faithful. Even a little look into the Bob Marley references (what was that about? I asked and, lo and behold, Marley was a late-comer to being born again). Am I seeing things? I think not…