Charlton Heston was the go-to guy for larger-than-life roles. During his acting career, he played Moses, Ben-Hur and Mark Antony. At 6’3”, Heston had the commanding presence to tackle these roles like no lesser man could. In The Omega Man, only Heston can make being the last man on Earth look fun and exciting.
The Omega Man is about Army scientist Robert Neville (Charlton Heston), who is the sole survivor of a man-made plague that has wiped out most of the human race. Neville is able to save himself by injecting an antidote into his body just as the symptoms of the disease begin to manifest in him. But Neville is not alone; he is hounded by a cult of albino mutants, led by Jonathan Matthias (Anthony Zerbe), that wants to destroy all forms of technology and kill Neville. Neville spends his days trying to find the main location where all of the nocturnal mutants sleep during the day, while trying to stay alive.
One day while Neville is acquiring new clothes in a store, he comes across a woman who runs off after he calls out to her. Neville chases her, but she gets away, leading him to believe that the entire incident was a hallucination. Neville is eventually caught by the cult and is sentenced to be burnt at the stake. However, he is rescued by the woman he saw at the store, who is named Lisa (Rosalind Cash). Lisa takes Neville to a compound where there are other people, including children. Her younger brother, Ritchie (Eric Laneuville), is slowly turning into a mutant, and Neville figures out that he can cure him by using his own blood as an antidote to the disease. Neville takes Lisa and Ritchie to his bunker in the city and sets out to cure the young man, but Matthias and his cult have other plans of their own and set out to destroy Neville once and for all.
Charlton Heston’s Robert Neville is a man who is trying to hold on to his sanity in a world without people. He spends his days scavenging for food while looking for any sign of mutant activity. At night, he fortifies his bunker where he plays chess against himself and talks to himself. Neville’s life is constantly in danger, but he seems to derive pleasure out of the constant battles with Matthias and his cult. When he is captured, he makes jokes and laughs at Matthias’ agenda to rid the world of technology.
Neville’s world is completely upended when he meets Lisa and the other survivors of the plague. He sees that there is a chance for a better life for everyone once he is able to produce a cure. He immerses himself in his work to find a cure to save Ritchie and the other survivors who carry the disease. He also develops feelings for Lisa that lead to an unexpected relationship that they both find happiness in.
The Omega Man is a great portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world. This film shows the existence of a solitary man trying to hold on to a world that is completely gone. This survivor endures continuous hardships but still manages to believe that things can get better. He represents the human spirit of always striving for a better life. The Omega Man shows the horrible effects of technology but also that there is always hope in the face of destruction.