Archive for March 11th, 2010

Review: Legion

If you make a movie about angels who posses people to fight an apocalyptic war against the staff and customers of a truck stop diner on the edge of the Mojave desert, it isn’t going to be a classic. Legion certainly isn’t a classic, but it isn’t completely without merit.

Renegade angel, Michael (Paul Bettany) lands in LA two days before Christmas and steals a small arsenal of assault rifles and sub machineguns before heading out to the desert. Meanwhile Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) a waitress at the diner is pregnant with a baby she intends to give away and no sign of the babies farther. Jeep (Lucas Black) is the son of the owner (Dennis Quaid) and Charlie’s would-be boyfriend. These characters are all present in the diner along with the cook, Percy (Charles S. Dutton), Kyle (Tyrese Gibson), Howard and Sandra Anderson (Jon Tenney and Kate Walsh) and their daughter Audrey (Willa Holland) when an old woman goes all exorcist and takes a bite out of one of the patrons. We later learn that the impending attach is a rerun of the great flood described in The Book of Genesis, why god chose zombie like creatures instead of a deluge is never explained however it all works out for the best as Uzi’s aren’t very effective against torrential flooding.  As the possessed people are reminiscent of slow moving zombies they are easy to shoot, the main characters are only in any real jeopardy when they do something stupid. Speaking of the characters, they are really under developed and lack dimension, the plot is beyond thin but the film is actually good fun at times and Paul Bettany does a great job as the disgruntled angel.

The movie begins with a voiceover by Charlie explaining her mothers opinion of God changed believing he had changed from loving and merciful to stern and unforgiving. She contemplates the possible reason and suggests “Maybe He was just tired of all the bullshit!” it finishes with the same quote. Making the main antagonists angels carrying out the will of god makes for a more interesting villain than daemons in the employ of the devil. The head henchman Gabriel played with relish by Kevin Durand. Gabriel has not had good press in this type of movie in recent years with memorable examples being Christopher Walken in The Prophecy and Tilda Swinton in Constantine. I don’t know enough about the subject to know if there is a theological reason for this but in this instance he does make a good metaphor for zealots from all faiths who blindly commit atrocities in the name of their religion. Unless the film is intended as part one of a series of movies the centre of the plot doesn’t make much sense but this is easy to forget as you go along with some well handled action. The main body of the movie borrows heavily from John Carpenter’s classic Assault on Precinct 13 but then this is a movie that isn’t afraid to borrow from other movies and contains all the expected clichés.

After years working on visual effects for some big movies it is Scott Stewart’s first feature, his second Priest is already in the can and set for release next year. Based on a comic book about a vampire killing priest it also stars Paul Bettany. Given the well respected source material it should have a better story than Legion and could be interesting. As for Legion, despite its many faults the film is actually surprisingly watchable although I would suggest there are better films to see on release at the moment so this could be one for DVD.

Two Stars out of Five

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