Legion (2010)

The whole time I was watching Legion I assumed it was a graphic novel adaption. I was surprised to learn it was actually an original story made for the big screen. Perhaps original is a bit too generous since it draws so heavily on Prophecy and Dogma, with a little Terminator and Matrix mixed in for good measure. Nevertheless the movie stands up fairly well on its own, even if it’s somewhat flawed in the execution.

The story: Well it seems humanity went a bit too far so God finally pulled the plug on the whole operation. I think anyone who’s seen The Real Housewives will agree we had this one coming. He decides to exterminate us by sending an army of angels, or rather an army of people unpleasantly possessed by said angels, to wage war on mankind. The primary objective of this assault is the termination (ahem) of an unborn baby who will lead mankind to its (ahem) salvation.

Archangel Michael (an excellently stoic Paul Bettany) goes AWOL to protect John Connor the baby. He chops off his wings and heads to the Paradise Falls (nyuck, nyuck) diner in the middle of the Mojave desert, where the baby’s chainsmoking mom works. But before he goes he loads up on supplies. And by supplies I mean GUNS.

"Come with me if you want to live."

I love situations where a few characters are stuck together in a secluded place. Almost every television series will have an episode like that – I call it the slumber party episode. It allows characters to organically bond and open up to each other quickly, and there’s a real potential for terror when your collective backs are against the wall. Indeed we get one or two juicy scares as the grotesque possessed roll up on the diner in the guise of creepy old lady, creepy ice cream truck driver (kudos for avoiding the overused scary clown thing), etc., but most of those aren’t very effective thanks to the overly expository trailer that aired constantly before Legion‘s release.

The movie does a nice job of building tension early on with ominous approaching clouds, a blaring TV test pattern and the phones going dead. But once Michael gets to the diner we’re in straight up action territory – it’s explosions and shell casings from here on out, although thankfully there are ample lulls that allow for genuinely decent character development.

Biggest letdown: I knew going in this was going to be more action than horror, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately the copious shootouts and fisticuffs are sloppily choreographed and it often feels like Bettany, whose character is supposed to be a sort of perfect warrior, didn’t put in quite enough time at the range, and certainly not enough time in the dojo to be doing so much of his own fight work.

Why you should watch: The action geek will likely go gaga for the gun porn but what makes this movie a hair better than most similar fare is its impressive panoply of mid-level stars including Dennis Quaid, Charles S. Dutton, Tyrese Gibson (who has developed into a nice little actor), Kate Walsh and of course Bettany himself. Many of these have serious acting chops and by and large everyone puts in a solid performance with the possible exception of the young female lead, played by a clearly made-for-TV Adrianne Palicki.

Memorable Moment: All the really good ones are blown up by the trailers but there’s a neat bit when the towering Gabriel, played with typically impressive presence by the under-appreciated Kevin Durand, flashes a convincing, emotional hesitation before beating the holy crap out of Michael.

Choice quote: Gotta go with the aforementioned little old lady screaming, “Shut up you stupid fucking cunt, all you do is complain, complain, complain!” I would have enjoyed sitting in the casting room for those auditions.

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5 Responses to “Legion (2010)”

  1. Slumber party episode. Yes!!!

  2. Natalie Kaire Says:

    The slumber party episode! I think Paul Bettany could draw a lot of people to a slumber party.

  3. […] Legion – Paul Bettany hosts a slumber party at a remote diner besieged by murderous angels. […]

  4. […] higher than director Scott Charles Stewart’s last effort, the similar but much more tolerable Legion, and approximately 41 points higher than it […]

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