Director    Scott Stewart
Starring    Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Lucas Black, Kevin Durand, Adrianne Palicki, Tyrese Gibson
Release    22 Jan (US) 5 Mar (UK)    Certificate 15
1 stars


7th March 2010

When angels are portrayed in the movies, they are usually benevolent guides that show desperate businessmen what life would be like if they didn't exist. Not so with Legion: this angel doesn't just have a dirty face, he has guns and mad fisticuff skills to boot. Think this seems like utter nonsense already? Just you wait.

When God decides that all of humanity simply ain't worth the hassle anymore, angels are sent to bring about a global apocalypse. Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany), however, decides that the infallible, omnipotent Lord is just having a funny five minutes, so decides to defend everyone from the heavenly soldiers. This involves holing himself up with a group of misfits in a desert diner, one of whom is apparently pregnant with mankind's saviour. Together they are forced to pick off all of the human zombies that come to kill the soon-to-be-mum.

Coming from ILM senior staff-turned-director Scott Stewart, this film's pitch of biblical mythology and kick-ass action always seemed like a cool concept on paper, but the end result is a messy collision of half-chewed ideas that were raped from no Church sermon you ever heard. And it all plays out in a claustrophobic Assault On Precinct 13 scenario, which kind of undermines the global aspect of this particular Armageddon.

It does, however, mean that mankind's survival depends on a handful of strangers, all of whom are so one-dimensional, it's hard to care what happens to them. Dennis Quaid (for whom this film marks an unfathomable career low) phones in his weary diner owner act, but he is still more watchable than Lucas Black's slow simpleton Jeep Hanson whose unrequited puppy-dog love for the pregnant-and-promiscuous Charlie is just too lame to root for. Throw in Tyrese Gibson's criminal with a heart, and an arguing husband and wife with their troublesome teenage daughter, and it's hard not to cheer on the zombie-like humans clawing at the front door.

[gallery]So then it's up to Paul Bettany's Michael to save the day. From the opening sequence, in which the fallen angel cuts off his wings and proceeds to show an aptitude for guns and punching, it is understood that Michael is a calm-but-ultimately-badass angel. Unfortunately, throughout the rest of the movie, he is so frustratingly unforthcoming with answers and key plot points about the impending end of the world, he might as well be a character in Lost. Except for one brief flashback, Bettany instead spends his time giving orders and throwing himself into horribly edited fight sequences.

And this is why the film is a real letdown. If you set your movie in the supernatural world of angels, heaven and earth and the God Almighty, why not explore those ideas? Instead, our super-cool soldier angel is nothing more than a third-rate uncharismatic protector. Even when Kevin Durand's Gabriel shows up with equal abilities to Michael, all that really happens is a ridiculously overlong fight between the two that borders on blasphemy. I've read the Bible - at no point do I remember mention of the angel Gabriel wielding a giant mace with extending rotating spikes.

By the time the credits roll, the underwhelming action makes way for the barrage of unanswered questions. Why was Charlie's unborn child the saviour of mankind? If the future of humanity depends on Michael saving this child, why do we hear mention of a group of survivors elsewhere? And just: why, Dennis Quaid, why?

Most importantly of all, why did God flip his nut in the first place? Is humanity really not worthy of existing anymore? Well, the specimens presented in the film will make you think there was good reason to bring the apocalypse. While watching this movie, I, for one, was praying for it.

More:  Legion  Paul Bettany
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