Visuals are commendable as a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller yet even Will Smith’s convincing portrayal cannot save the general dryness of a cliché-filled drama set in a futuristic world.
Inhabitants of a once people-friendly Earth have evolved to kill humans as they hunt them down through their ability to literally sense fear. Sailing through the ebb and flow of a father-son relationship, Cypher (Will Smith) navigates his son Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) through an illusive forest with a silence brimming of menace. A frustrated cadet whose only aim is to be promoted as ranger, Kitai is eager to prove himself to the prime commander – his father.
As Kitai faces each predator, he is re-acquainted with a fear more potent than terror of the wilderness. Will Smith cast a spell once again because it’s difficult to see a sunny goody two shoes actor play an estranged father. However, the robotic personality in this film showed Smith’s versatility and grace.
One of the rare highlights comes in a central theme explored throughout the film. It questions the conventional notion of fear and unravels its true nature as a conscious choice taken every second of the day much like picking an apple from an orange; fear is an illusion we succumb to if we let it.
Director M. Night Shyamalan seemed to have taken no risks for the film has a predictable plot and forgettable music mashed up with a script that is melodramatic at best and tawdry at worst. Visually sumptuous on occasion and a dash of humour here and there keeps the viewer awake but just barely.