Dr. Alice Krippin (Emma Thompson) is interviewed on TV about her great discovery: she has changed the measles so that it attacks cancerous cells. She explains that all the cancer patients which her cure has been tested on have recovered so far. The scene jumps to three years later. We see New York City has become an empty and desolate place, devoid of human life. Grass covers roads and buildings, abandoned cars line the highways and the city is silent. It seems that apocalypse has arrived.
Robert Neville (Will Smith) is driving through the deserted city accompanied by Sam, his dog. A herd of deer leap across his path and he follows them gives chase at speed in the car. He tries to shoot them and we realise it's a hunt. The deer split up and run down a road blocked with abandoned cars. Neville gives chase on foot, trying to hunt one deer down. As he rounds a corner he gets the deer in his gun sights only to be beaten to the kill by a lion. Robert is seemingly torn as to whether to shoot the lion and its family who also enter the scene. At this point his Robert's watch alarm starts beeping and he leaves, taking Sam with him. He leaves without firing the gun. We see Neville's home, it is the typical American detached house, but it looks as though it were in the middle of a war zone. They - Robert and Sam - have had a seemingly normal evening, eating processed food and watching TV. After a bath, Neville shuts, locks and protects every door and window with massive steel shutters. He sleeps close to Sam.
He dreams of how Zoe (Salli Richardson), his now-late wife and their now-late child Marley (Willow Smith) and Sam the dog as a puppy try to leave New York. We see Robert dressed in a military uniform: he decides to stay in New York on his own in order to try to stop the Krippin Virus as he is a military doctor. They tell Marley they are going on holiday. The dream scene is interrupted by Neville waking to once again face his lonely reality.
At his fortress-like home, Robert and Sam exercise to keep up their strengths and Robert goes down to the basement, where he keeps a small but hi-tech laboratory. We see that he has been experimenting with a vaccine/cure for the virus that has apparently wiped out most of the human race. He's tested the cure on captive infected rats in order to find a vaccine. All the rats look incredibly aggressive, except for one. Robert will have to inject the blood of that mouse into a human victim of KV to see if they revert back to regain their normal human characteristics. Later, Robert goes to a video-rental store where he talks to the mannequins, his only form of contact with the human form. It seems has created a game for himself to prevent madness from taking him. He later visits some condo flats nearby, watching sadly the remains of the people who used to live there. We see the pain in his eyes as he empathises with the loss of loved ones. Later, we hear the radio message Neville has created and plays over all AM radio frequencies. It says that he's alive, and that he'll be waiting for more survivors at the South Street Seaport at midday everyday.
Sam spots a deer again, so Robert and Sam go after it, the deer runs into an old building below ground level, and Sam goes after it, although Robert has tried to hold Sam back. Robert fearfully and nervously enters the building as Sam will not return of his own accord. Carefully, Robert searches the darkened rooms, he finds the corpse of the deer and Sam, hiding down in a hole, Robert has to shoot one of the infected who appears to be a mutated, rage filled monster called a Darkseeker. Both Sam and Robert start running away through the building, chased by a horde of Darkseekers. He fights them all and both are able to get out of the building unharmed, the Darkseekers cannot run after them because there is daylight outside; they cannot be exposed to daylight as the sun's UV radiation burns them. Soon afterwards, Robert sets a trap to catch one of the Darkseekers. He succeeds in capturing a female Darkseeker (Joanna Numata). As he does, however, the lead Darkseeker tries to rescue her, but is driven back by the sunlight. Robert takes the captured female home, to his lab. He tries the cure he's hopeful for, but it fails as she awakes and nearly attacks him. He revives her and continues to adapt his serums in the hope of finding a cure. He then makes a recorder video of the krippin virus now has completely has taken over humanity and the Darkseekers' social devolution is complete.
That night, he dreams of the past, when his wife and child try tried to leave New York in the chaos of its evacuation. He relives the panic and terror on the streets as the citizens of the city try to escape before the Darkseekers take control. Neville wakes again, with a deeply sad face.
The next morning, he remembers it's his birthday. When he goes to the video store, he finds his mannequins have been moved. During the night the Darkseekers have set the same trap he organized for them the previous day. Neville is caught by the trap and passes out. When he wakes up, he is badly hurt, hanging upside down and bleeding. Sam is faithfully waiting for him. He sets himself free finally just as dusk falls, but his leg gets badly cut with his knife. The Alpha Male from the previous day appear with infected dogs, but Sam defends Robert, killing the Darkseeker dogs, Robert succeeds in crawling back to the safety of his car dragging a badly injured and infected Sam with him.
When he gets home, despite his best efforts to save Sam, the latter shows signs of infection, succumbs to the virus and tries to maul Neville, forcing him to strangle her to death. Tears stream down his cheeks as he says goodbye to his only friend and is left all alone. The next day, he buries Sam's body. In a grief stricken rage he decides to fight the Darkseekers face-to-face. That night, he drives his car at speed into the hordes of Darkseekers who roam the streets at night. He crashes and the Darkseekers overpower the vehicle. Just as the alpha male is about to kill him, bright light shines on him and he blacks out. While sleeping, he has dreamt about the past once more, this time he's dreamt of the helicopter his wife and child used to escape New York, as it takes off it crashes with another helicopter attacked by Darkseekers and his loved ones are both killed. The people who rescued him are Anna Montaise (Alice Braga) and a boy named Ethan (Charlie Tahan), who have heard Robert's radio message while passing through the city, Robert rejects them coldly at first, but starts to warm up to them. Anna wants to go leave New York, and go to a human haven in Bethel, Vermont. Robert, however, now insists that he wants to be left alone and that doesn't believe that such a place exists.
Later that evening, Robert sees the Darkseekers have followed him, launch an attack on the house; the previous night they had followed Anna back to the house when she rescued Robert. Although Robert's home defenses are comprehensive, the Darkseekers are so great in number they breach the shutters and make their way into the house. Robert, Anna and Ethan retreat to the basement lab.
During the hectic fight, Robert has time to realise that the female Darkseeker he had captured earlier and tested the vaccine on, has come back to her human form. He takes a sample of her blood in a syringe and gives it to Anna, telling her to leave through a small trap-door with Ethan. Robert stays back to kill as many Darkseekers as he can, blowing them to pieces along with himself, including the vicious alpha male who has made a personal quest out of hunting Robert down.
Anna and Ethan reach Bethel to find it surrounded by a castle-like wall and a steel door. There, some human survivors live in that enclosed community. Anna gives the syringe with the antidote to the human leader of that small community and her voiceover tells us of the legend that Robert Neville has become.
Due to test audience's dislike of the film's original ending, several scenes were altered before the film's release, especially the standoff between Neville and the Darkseekers in his laboratory. Visual effects supervisor Janek Sirrs recounts the original ending, starting with the standoff.
At that point, Neville's – and the audience's – assumptions about the nature of these creatures are shown to be incorrect. We see that they have actually retained some of their humanity. There is a very important moment between the alpha male and Neville. The alpha male slapped his hand on the glass and smeared it revealing a butterfly shaped imprint."
Neville realizes that the alpha male is identifying the woman he was experimenting on by a butterfly tattoo, and that the alpha male wants her back. Neville puts his gun down and returns the infected woman. Neville and the alpha male then exchange stares; Neville apologizes to them, which the alpha male acknowledges before the infected leave. The final shot follows Neville, Anna, and Ethan as they drive away towards Vermont.
Francis Lawrence said in late 2008 that there would be a prequel to the film, and that Will Smith would be reprising his role. He stated that the film would reveal what happens to Neville before the infected take over New York. D. B. Weiss was recruited to write the script, while Lawrence would direct "if we figure out the story". Smith stated the film would have Neville and his team going from New York City to Washington, D.C. and back again, as they made their last stand. The film would again explore the premise of what it's like to be alone, as Lawrence explained, "... the tough thing is, how do we do that again and in a different way?"
As of May 3, 2011, Francis Lawrence is not going to film the prequel and thinks "it's never gonna happen" at all.
- Will Smith as Dr. Robert Neville
- Alice Braga as Anna
- Charlie Tahan as Ethan
- Emma Thompson as Dr. Alice Krippin
- Salli Richardson as Zoe Neville
- Willow Smith as Marley Neville
- Dash Mihok as Alpha Male Darkseeker
- Joanna Numata as Alpha Female Darkseeker
- Darrell Foster as Mike
- Abbey & Kona as Samantha, the dog
- Pat Fraley as Voice of President of the United States
- Mike Patton as Creature vocal effects
The bonus features of the DVD release of the film include four animated comics from the graphic novel, I Am Legend: Awakening.
Death As a GiftEdit
In Hong Kong, China, Jinghua Xu sits in her apartment at dawn, writing a note. She then leaves her apartment building, and goes out into the desolate ruins of a lifeless Hong Kong. She travels through the ruined city to a bridge, where she commits suicide by jumping from the ledge. The note Jinghua wrote is then seen in her bloody lifeless hand, the writing on it translating, "My name is Jinghua Xu. I am immune. Beside the infected, I am the only survivor in Hong Kong."
ADX Florence, Colorado, USA, the most secure prison facility in the United States. During the early stages of the KV outbreak, a prison guard enters warden Halloran's office. He informs him that all the prisoners have been loaded into the buses, " 'Cept him of course." The warden then signs a document at his desk, telling the guard to "show him no compassion." As prison buses carrying Halloran, prisoners and guards are driving into the mountains, away from the prison, he says in a voiceover, "Even now, in this time of darkness, he does not deserve it!"
The story then shifts to John Edward Lord, an imprisoned terrorist who was deliberately left behind at the prison to die, with no information on the outbreak. John is left alone in his cell with no food or water, screaming in rage in the deserted prison.
At a military base in Fort Lee, Virginia, the general reports to the colonel that Colorado has been declared a hostile territory. It is then reported that contact with the convoy carrying Halloran has been lost, and the order is given for Colorado's entire power grid to be shut down.
In ADX Florence, after three days locked in his cell, dehydrated and starving, as the Colorado power grid is shut down, the electronic lock for John's cell deactivates, freeing him. After drinking from the prison's water supply, John stocks up on ammunition. Planning to start a new life in the wilderness and finish his book, John flees the prison in a stolen SUV, and drives off into the sunset.
In the night, while driving through the desert, John comes across the wrecked and overturned prison buses from ADX Florence, and the mangled corpse of Halloran. When John gets out of the SUV to investigate, a Darkseeker jumps down from atop one of the wrecks at him, prompting him to shoot it. It is then revealed that the wrecks are infested with Darkseekers. As John flees in his SUV from the Darkseeker hordes, he, narrating the story, explains that the act of terrorism he was imprisoned for was meant as patriotism; he believed that his beloved America had become corrupt and bankrupt, and that it needed to be destroyed and then reborn.
John flees back to ADX Florence, pursued by the Darkseekers. The Darkseekers corner him, and John engages them in a last stand.
Sacrificing the Few for the ManyEdit
In the early stages of the KV outbreak, a refugee camp has been opened somewhere in central America, and is taking in patients infected with KV for treatment. As a young boy and girl watch from the outskirts of the camp, a military convoy arrives. The soldiers, dressed in NBC suits, open fire, massacring both the patients and personnel. A soldier then throws a grenade into the camp, destroying it. As the convoy leaves, the children stare in horror and grief at the camp's disintegrated remains. The girl then weeps tears of blood, revealing that she is infected.
In New Delhi, India, during the outbreak of KV, Vatsala and her family are preparing to evacuate to a shelter. That night, Vatsala sneaks out of her home and into the chaotic streets of the city, and sees her boyfriend, Pritam, atop an overturned bus. As the two embrace, Pritam begs Vatsala to return to the shelter without him, and promises that he will be waiting when Vatsala comes out.
Vatsala returns to her home, and, through a secret passage in the house, goes through the underground network of tunnels to the shelter. However, her father, fearing she may be infected, refuses to let her in for 48 hours, declaring that if Vatsala is ill, "We've already lost you." Vatsala swears to herself to never forgive her father for this.
Vatsala spends the next 48 hours waiting outside the shelter with food and water left for her. She begins to suffer the early symptoms of KV, but is in denial that she is infected. Eventually, Vatsala turns into a Darkseeker and tries to break into the shelter. The door to the shelter unexpectedly opens to reveal vicious-looking monsters instead of her family. In a fit of rage, Vatsala brutally kills the creatures, then, hungry, devours their remains.
Remembering Pritam will be waiting for her, Vatsala goes out into the desolate city, to the overturned bus. There, she is greeted by the now-Darkseeker Pritam, and leads him back to the shelter for food. There, it is revealed that one of Vatsala's brothers is still alive, and that the creatures in the shelter Vatsala killed were actually her family, who she was hallucinating as monsters. Vatsala and Pritam, seeing the former's brother as a monster, attack and viciously kill him, unaware that he was actually Vatsala's brother.
- The original draft of the script was set in San Francisco, and the primal Darkseekers were replaced with intelligence Hemocytes, creatures which were more like The Family from The Omega Man.
- In the shot where Neville sees Fred the mannequin in front of the Grand Terminal Station, it looks like the mannequin is turning his head.
- This film has a similarity to the 2013 film After Earth with Will Smith and his son, Jaden. Though it received negative reviews from critics.