Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Mark Dacascos, Geoff Mead, Jennifer Lee Wiggins, Ryan Lloyd
Directed by Griff Furst
It’s the end of the world as we know it and Mark Dacascos feels fine.
The last two movies I saw Mark Dacascos in were a Sci-Fi Channel flick called Solar Attack in which he played a billionaire industrialist/scientist who determined that the only way to save the world from a massive solar flare threatening to incinerate the atmosphere and extinguish all life on the planet was to nuke the North Pole. Then I saw him again in a completely minor villain role in Code Name: The Cleaner. Yes, I paid to see Code Name: The Cleaner in a theater. No, I’m not proud of this fact. Given the movie was so bad that the only way the filmmakers could think of to show off his martial arts skills was to throw in a pointless scene where his character beat up a random pair of his own security guards, something tells me Dacascos isn’t too proud of Code Name: The Cleaner either. Keep both of these films in mind before asking yourself if Dacascos’ career has really sunk to the point that he’d accept the starring role in an Asylum rip-off of I Am Legend.
Dacascos is Renchard; seemingly the last man on earth after an unspecified plague has wiped out the rest of humanity and turned others into mindless mutant zombie creatures. He spends his days holed up in his California countryside home turned protected fortress haunted by memories of his dead son and trying to fend off the madness of loneliness, occasionally hallucinating signs of life other than himself. Going out in the backyard and practicing his kung fu helps. Brutally killing the cannibalistic mutants that show up at his compound also gives him a sense of satisfaction that casually talking to the mannequin seated at his dinner table cannot.
Renchard seems relegated to his fate and isn’t interested in shattering his own little insulated world when he gets a video message on his laptop from a woman named Brianna informing him that there are other survivors and that she’s trapped down in Los Angeles. Her caravan taking her to a survivor outpost called Antioch got ambushed by mutants and she’s in desperate need of rescue. He tells her he won’t help. A major reason he won’t help: he’s already rigged up the gas lines below the mutant overrun city to blow it all to kingdom come in less than 24-hours.
I Am Omega had been up until this point a surprisingly solid little mood piece that initially consisted of just the Renchard character living in isolation and struggling to survive both physically and mentally. Even the mutant make-up is effectively gruesome: zombie-types with what looked like radiation burned flesh and vertebrae protruding down their backside like spines. Good cinematography, good f/x work, a deliberate but not boring pace, a genuine sense of desolation, well acted on Dacascos’ part virtually no dialogue for the first half hour: if Asylum so-called mockbusters were typically of this quality then they’d have a much better reputation.
And then two smack-talking soldier boys pull up to Renchard’s place, looking and sounding like they just walked straight out of a David A. Prior war movie. One will overuse the word “compadre” to an almost criminal degree. They pretty much force Renchard to accompany them to rescue Brianna because she’s got an antibody in her blood that can be turned into a cure for the virus that’s nearly driven mankind to extinction.
I was already wondering how the internet continued to function after the apocalypse; now I’m left wondering how they managed to eavesdrop in on Renchard’s conversation with Brianna. Those are just minor sticking points, however, compared to the biggest and most egregious bit of illogic that nearly kills the film. Let me toss up a SPOILER WARNING for the next two paragraphs since I have to give away a major twist.
These soldier-types know that Brianna is trapped in the city with no possible escape unless someone comes to rescue her. They know that Renchard has rigged the city to explode in less than 24-hours. So why bother setting about to rescue Brianna from certain death if they’re only going to turn around and try to kill her themselves? Shouldn’t they just let him blow up the city with her in it and achieve the same results? The illogic of their actions combined with the idiotic reason for their doing so mars what had otherwise been an okay B-movie.
Not to be outdone, Renchard will also suffer multiple gunshot wounds to both legs and yet he’ll still be able to pick himself up and keep on fighting. Yeah, maybe if you’re superhuman, something I wasn’t aware the character of Renchard was supposed to be.
Even before the plot takes those two nonsensical turns, I Am Omega also undergoes a radical change in tone. The moment Renchard gets to Brianna this bleak thriller briefly shifts into action buddy flick territory with Dacascos bickering with the girl while he fights off various mutants. One particularly dopey scene has previously steel-willed Dacascos confronted by multiple mutants, showing off his skills with nunchucks only to turn and run like a coward rather than fight them. Was this really the right moment to pay homage to The Princess Bride?
None of the more comical scenes are offensively bad or make the movie unwatchable. But, geez, what a jarring shift in tone: from bleak thriller to corny action thriller and then back to something straddling the fence in between.
2 1/2 out of 5
Discuss I Am Omega in the Dread Central forums!