Film review by: Witney Seibold
Good God, what a bad film.
Directed by special effects man Scott Stewart, “Legion” is a staggeringly stupid movie that uses angels and vague allusions to the book of Revelation as fodder for an action/horror film that lacks cogency, clarity, or wit. Paul Bettany plays the archangel Michael as a kung-fu savvy, broody, action archetype with unclear motivations, and an inappropriately sour attitude toward his charges. This film deals with the apocalypse, but doesn’t really give us many details as to what’s happening to the world. This is a film that will have you, by the end, shouting “What is going on?!” at the screen.
So in Paradise Falls, AZ (groan #1), a young pregnant woman named Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) is waiting on tables, when she’s attacked by an old lady with a foul mouth and vampire teeth. These scenes where the old lady, in a floral dress and a cute hairdo, goes scuttling across the ceiling, resemble something from a Sam Raimi film, and are “Legion’s” high point. Soon after this attack, we meet the archangel Michael, who wears a trenchcoat, and is all business, and has a trunk full of guns (groan #2). He has come to protect Charlie’s unborn baby from the hoard of approaching zombies, which are actually regular humans possessed by angels (groan #3). God, you see, has become so pissed off at mankind, that he has, like with the great flood, decided to wipe us all out. But, rather than do another flood (which, I guess, would be uncreative), he brings about other, less effective plagues, like clouds of flies, and zombie hoards. Luckily, God’s zombies can be dispatched with a simple gun (groan #4).
Michael has cut off his own wings in defiance of God, and has come to a place of free will, where he has decided he wants to protect humanity rather than destroy it (groan #5). He is now in an obscure truckstop diner on the edge of the Mojave desert protecting an unborn baby which, for some reason, God cannot harm (groan #6). God, it seems, gave us people an escape clause to annihilation, just keep the Messiah safe (groan #7).
The archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) also shows up, and he wears Roman-like armor (ironic, given how God’s son bit it), and likes to swing a techno-mace (groan #8) and swings his razor-sharp wings at people to cut them up (groan #9). Gabriel and Michael have weird discussions about following orders, and are trying to interpret the will of God in this mess. Actual theology is not considered. Blow, Gabriel, blow.
There is a black guy in the film played by Tyrese Gibson with a modicum of grace, although the character is kind of a racist cliché (groan #10). Groan #11 involves seeing otherwise respectful actors Dennis Quaid and Charles S. Dutton demeaning themselves in such a waste. There are a few other characters as well, but they only serve as fodder for zombies.
Not to reveal too much, but the baby is born. Thebaby is born in the span of about 30 seconds (groan #12), and afterwards, the mother is running about as if nothing happened (groan #13). How is the baby going to save humanity? Are they going to grow up and start an army against God’s zombies, like in “The Terminator?” And, at the film’s end, is the apocalypse still going on? Are there any people left? What was God’s true intention? (groans #14 and #15).
This is a film that makes the comic book conceits of “Dogma” look like C.S. Lewis-like defenses of religion. A film to make “The Prophecy” seem Biblically accurate.
If you’re an angel – one of God’s right hand creatures, mind you – do you need to pick up a gun, swing maces, and get into bar brawls? If you’re God, why do you need an army of angel zombies? This seems like a petty way to express your divinity. Groan #16, for good measure.
But nevermind. The filmmakers gave little thought to the theological implications of their story, and went for a cheap, dull, vastly stupid thriller that used the word “angel” the same way other films use the word “spy” and “God” the same way they use the word “Russians” or “The Government.”
“Legion.” Groan #17.