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Theatrical Review: Legion

It’s December 23rd in an unspecified year (though the setting is obviously contemporary), and we discover that God has had it with the way humans are running the planet and decides that it’s now time for a cleansing and time to start all over. He sends an army of angels led by Gabriel to enact his wish, but one angel, Michael rebels against God and is willing to help humanity make it’s last stand, in particular setting his sights on the people that work and own a remote diner/garage, especially and seemingly a waitress who’s about to give birth to a special child…

That’s the premise to the new movie Legion from a relatively unknown director, Scott Stewart, which he also co-writes with a relatively unknown collaborator, Peter Schink. This follows right on the trail of the release of the Hughes Brothers extremely well done The Book of Eli and has at least in a couple of places inspired some to write articles that these two seem to mark a trend of Hollywood looking to the good book for a message of hope to it’s audiences, to which I think it’s just a matter of coincidence, but that’s just me. Yes, there is a message of faith in both films, but the difference is that The Book of Eli is a really good movie, and Legion is a really bad one…

Watching this, I was put in the mind that Stewart and Schink probably read a lot of Garth Ennis’ comic Preacher and were big fans of movies like Constantine, The Prophecy and Kevin Smith’s Dogma and thought “Wow, we could make something really cool along those lines as well.” But that’s all it has, the idea that they could fill this thing with scenes and visuals that they thought would look really cool, but doesn’t have any sort of real thought put into it. For something like this to work, it needs some rules to go by, and those seem to be made up here on the fly, simply because they think it would look cool on screen. Yeah, we have angels coming to wipe the Earth clean, but they use humans to do it, either seeming like zombies or demon-posessed, but why? If we have a child here who is supposedly being seen as the salvation for humanity, why would God then want to wipe the planet clean? And the whole meaning of the child is something that’s never given a proper explanation, basically being unresolved by the time this ends.

Like I said, it looks to me like this is being done because they think it looks really cool and they really don’t have any conviction behind their ideas whatsoever. It even filters over to all of the atrocious dialogue which all seems written in mind for what would sound cool in a trailer more than anything else. On top of that, all of the characters are simplistically written cliches that behave in mostly a one or two dimensional manner, with little or no smarts amongst any of them, only asking questions when it’s convenient to the script.

On a technical level though, this is pretty well shot and the effects are serviceable, helping them get their “cool” moments, but it’s story reads like it’s written by someone who’s read a lot of DC’s Vertigo line of comics without any real life experience to bring to the whole thing.

And that’s a real shame considering the impressive cast this thing has- Paul Bettany as the angel Michael, backed up by guys like Dennis Quaid, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, and Charles S. Dutton should be a combination for something pretty good. And to their credit, Lucas Black plays Quaid’s son, and that’s something I could actually buy here, it’s just a shame that they’re all of one note (though I also have to give credit to Dutton as well, who in his brief scenes really does try to inject something genuine here even without the base material to do so. Most laughable though is Quaid, and I really do like Dennis Quaid, but he doesn’t do himself any favors here, playing his character with pretty much the same tone all the way through and with a forced expression on his face that’s a cross between the cartoonish and the constipated.

The trailer was pretty good for this, and it certainly sold the movie to me before seeing it. I paid my own money to see it, so naturally, I wanted to like it- but, oh… when this is filled with this many inconsistencies and simplistic characters, it’s real easy to hate it, though I have to admit to some fun making some MST3K comments along the way. Just as I’ll remember The Book of Eli at the end of 2010 when putting together a list of the best movies that I saw, I’ll remember Legion as one of the worst…

By Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

2 replies on “Theatrical Review: Legion”

And yet again, another film I’ll avoid seeing in the theater. I was kinda looking forward to this one, I thought it might have a good, creepy Exorcist element to it… apparently not.

Thanks for saving me some money, Darren!

Yeah, it really is a shame… I just kind of wonder how this got greenlit in it’s current form. There is a good idea here, but it really needed another few drafts at the keyboard and a director who actually had some conviction about it rather than just making it all look cool.

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