Click image for more Fords in I Am Legend
Product placements in films get a lot of virtual ink here at Autoblog, probably because we all like cars (obviously) and are, for the most part, movie buffs. The carmaker placement king over the last year was unquestionably Transformers, which did more to expose (and evangelize) the new Camaro to the masses than GM's marketing department could ever have hoped. The Bond films are always good for some car-related water-cooler discussion, and last year also saw VW use The Bourne Ultimatum to shill for the Touareg 2. Ford's been kind of off the blockbuster radar since Casino Royale, but makes a tidy comeback in the new Will Smith thriller, I Am Legend.
Over the holidays, I managed to slink away from the wife and kids for a couple of hours to catch the film with some friends. As a movie it's imperfect but very entertaining, with a nice performance by Will Smith. The Ford stuff is very noticeable if you're aware of this sort of thing, and for the most part the cars are used well.
NOTE: Since I'm going to reference some scenes and elements that are spoilerish in nature, including the film's ending, I'll give the rundown after the jump.
An adaptation of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, which has been visited by Hollywood twice before (The Last Man on Earth, 1964 and The Omega Man, 1971), the film is the story of Dr. Robert Neville, an Army scientist who is the sole human being in New York City after a virus has wiped most of humanity off the map and turned those who didn't die into super-agile monsters. Neville, with only his dog Sam to keep him company, is working to find a cure to the virus and hopefully connect with any other survivors who share his immunity to it.
Now, on to the car stuff. There are three obvious Ford placements and one cool Easter Egg for observant car geeks (like myself). LAST WARNING: I will talk about spoiler-type scenes in the film, including the ending, so if you plan to see I Am Legend, I recommend you come back after you've checked it out. Here we go.
- Ford gets major play in the opening minutes of the film, which have Neville racing through deserted city streets chasing a herd of deer in a red Shelby GT500 that Manhattan Ford no longer needed, seeing its clientele is either A) dead or B) hairless, bloodthirsty monsters. Dr. Neville seems like a pretty good driver, too, as he powerslides the Mustang through corners (with Sam the dog riding shotgun, unfettered), steering with one hand while lining up a fleeing deer in the sights of his M4 at what must be 70 mph. It's so much fun to watch (and listen to... especially when the blower whine cuts through the deafening cacophony of the engine) that you're more than happy to ignore the fact that the car looks like it was just detailed. Granted, Dr. Neville does have plenty of free time on his hands.
Here's the GT500 sequence in its entirety:
- Mustang fans will be disappointed to learn that after the film's opening scenes, the GT500 doesn't make another appearance. The "hero car" for the remainder of the film is an accessorized black Expedition (shown here), which appears to be one of a pair that Neville rides in during flashback sequences showing the evacuation/quarantining of Manhattan after virus hell has broken loose. It also gets used in a memorable scene that takes place following a highly traumatic encounter between Neville, his dog, and some monster baddies. We learn that off-road lights aren't popular with night-stalking creatures, and jumbo SUVs make for excellent bowling balls when they're driven into swarms of monsters. At least until the monsters get organized and flip said SUV onto its roof, putting our hero in peril.
- The final scene of the film involves Anna and Ethan, two other survivors who (very conveniently) find Dr. Neville and rescue him as he is about to become monster chow in the scene described above. In the final minutes of the movie, they pull up to a gigantic walled and gated survivors' colony in Vermont. They're carrying Dr. Neville's cure to the virus in an inexplicably immaculate Ford Escape that's lovingly photographed head-on as it arrives. My first thought after noting the product placement was, "Who knew that keeping your cars sparkling was such a critical part of humanity's fight for survival?" Then comes the closing voiceover and we fade to black.
- The most interesting bit of Ford placement is something only car geeks are likely to notice, and only if they pay very close attention to the background. It happens early in the picture. At the end of the GT500 deer hunting sequence, we're presented with a wide shot of Times Square, which is, as you know, covered in advertising. All the fanboys in the audience immediately noticed a billboard for a mythical Batman/Superman crossover movie. I was drawn to another billboard -- a make-believe Ford advertisement for some future model. That future model, in this case, happened to be the Ford Interceptor Concept. Damn you, Ford, for waiting until the apocalypse happens to give it to us!
UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments, the reason the GT500 Robert Neville drives in the movie is so squeaky clean is that in a scene that didn't make the theatrical cut, we see him take the Mustang from a Ford showroom. Hopefully, the DVD will include this as supplemental material or in some form of Director's Cut. I Am Legend only had a running time of 1:40 or so, so why they didn't/couldn't include this is beyond me. The scene involves a stunt in which the Shelby is driven through the front window of the showroom.
Below, I've added two YouTube videos taken by bystanders of that stunt. The take captured in the second one looks like it might have ended a bit messily. FYI also, the F-word is dropped by the shooter in the first one.