Film Review with Robert Mann – Legion

Legion **½

Paul Bettany – perhaps one of the most unlikely of action stars, yet not only is he starring in this week’s action horror flick Legion, he has also been cast in another action horror film in cinemas next year called Priest. What exactly attracted him to these roles though? After all, both are essentially B movie actioners in a similar vein to the Resident Evil and Underworld movies as opposed to the more substantial films we are used to seeing Bettany in. Although, maybe that is the point – while neither film is exactly going to win points with critics, they are not supposed to. What they are supposed to is entertain and face it with a concept as out there as Legion – God has given up on humanity and sent an army of angels to wipe us out and our only hope is in one rebellious angel with a penchant for human weaponry – it would be hard not to make a film that entertains on some level and, if nothing else, it would certainly be fun to film it.

A dusty old diner in the remote regions of the Mojave Desert becomes the unlikely battleground for the survival of the human race. When God finally loses faith in mankind, he sends a terrifying legion of angels to bring on the Apocalypse. Humanity’s only hope lies in a group of strangers trapped in the eatery, including owner Bob Hanson (Dennis Quaid) and his son Jeep (Lucas Black), along with employees Charlie(Adrianne Palicki) and Percy Walker (Charles S. Dutton), married couple Howard (Jon Tenney) and Sandra Anderson (Kate Walsh) and their daughter Audrey (Willa Holland), and traveller Kyle Williams (Tyrese Gibson). Also finding his way onto the scene is chief saviour Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany). Expelled from heaven, he is on a mission to save Charlie, who is a young, pregnant waitress he believes is carrying the new messiah capable of safeguarding the future of humankind. But with his brother and nemesis Gabriel (Kevin Durrand) determined to carry out God’s extermination orders, the holy mother of all showdowns is about to erupt.



The concept for Legion is one that has epic, I suppose you could say biblical, potential. This potential is hinted at on several occassions during the film – the strong opening scenes suggest that an apocalyptic event on a grand scale is about to occur and a flashback to Michael’s time as an angel lets us see God’s army of angels in the heavens above – and we get glimpses of the wider apocalypse in the form of radio reports and encounters with the masses of normal people who have become possessed by angels. Almost frustratingly, however, glimpses are all we actually get, (perhaps due to the low production budget an/or a lack of ambition on the part of the filmmakers) the majority of the film is extremely small in scale, the events and action being based almost entirely around the setting of a remore desert diner. The setting isn’t entirely a bad on as it allows for a slightly unnerving sense of isolation surrounding the characters, with them being completely on their own in a struggle to survive in similar fashion to Dawn of the Dead. Annoyingly, however, the potential for more is not exploited. The disparic group of characters which the film’s events are based around are mostly obvious and predictable stereotypes complete with stock character arcs that you will have seen countless times before and the scenes that establish them are rather uninteresting, only really serving to slow the pace of the film down. It is also annoying that the glimpses of the wider picture never give away to anything more as the setting, while being fairly effective at times, is mostly quite dull and never allows to anything especially exciting to happen. This isn’t to say that the film doesn’t have some redeeming features, though. While it completely fails to be scary on any level – thus failing as a horror flick – the film does showcase several enjoyable, if unspecactular, action sequences, the highlight being the climactic fight sequence between Michael and Gabriel which shows just how useful angel wings can be in a fight, and the visual effects are mostly adequate, although occasionally poor, getting the job done although not blowing you away. While there is little to really speak of in the acting department, none of the cast members delivering performances that are either earth shattering or especially entertaining and no one anywhere near being on top form, the acting is still not too bad for the most part, with several actors getting moments to show some emotion and Paul Bettany being pretty decent in the lead role. Bettany’s voice has an almost otherwordly presence that is perfect for his angelic role here (although the fact that his character spends most of the film without his wings makes it hard to actually distinguish himself as an angel) and he proves decent at the action star thing, playing a hero who has a softness to him, contrasting the typical tough guy of action star. Due to poor writing, however, none of the actors actually have much to work with, the story being pretty generic and unsubstantial and the dialogue often being quite cheesy and constantly unmemorable. Nonetheless, while the film is undeniably flawed it has enough little touches – Michael blowing a cross shaped hole in the wall at the start, for example – and all round entertainment value to make it a not completely bad film. So, overall, Legion is a film that is full of wasted potential, with its big promise making way for what is essentially just a B movie action horror in a biblical mould, but one that is entertaining enough for undemanding viewers to get some kicks out of, even if only when it comes out on DVD. Definitely not a film of a biblical proportions.

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Review by Robert Mann BA (Hons)

© BRWC 2010.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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