Screen Gems // 2010 // 100 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // June 2nd, 2010
Bob Hanson: "You know this is crazy, right? I mean...I don't even
believe in God."
Michael: "Well that's just fine, Bob, he doesn't believe in you either."
I had faith that Legion would be better than everybody said it was. How could reviewers that gave the film "one star" or a "thumbs down" back when it was in the cinemas be right? How could you mess up an epic angel battle or a movie where the apocalypse comes to a small diner in the desert? The previews made it look so cool, and I was determined simply to watch the film with a big bowl of popcorn while checking my brain at the door. Apart from some kinda cool angel effects and a chance to see a good cast survive a bad movie, the reviewers were right. Legion doesn't seem better at home than it did as a box office bomb, and there's little to recommend it on DVD outside of the fact that on a DVD player you can fast forward through the boring parts. Unfortunately by doing that, the film's gonna run about ten minutes.
God is very mad at the world, and He has sent His angels down to earth to take out mankind once and for all. But the thing is that the angels possess men, turning them in to zombie flesh eaters who destroy each other. I'm not sure why that is more effective than a winged army with swords and angry attitudes, but there you are. No floods, no fires, no locusts, just zombies. I guess God is a George Romero fan, and who are we to argue with His choice of plagues after all these years?
One angel (Paul Bettany, The Da Vinci Code) is determined to stop all of this heavenly "Apocalypse Now," and he knows the hope of humanity is at a remote desert truck stop. That's where a pregnant waitress (Adrianne Palicki, Elektra Luxx), eight months along, who still smokes a pack of Marlboros each day waiting for something better to come along. Somehow her baby is gonna renew God's faith in mankind, so if he can just keep her from lead badass avenging angel (Kevin Durand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) he can save the world. Along for the ride are a company of stock characters including: the jaded diner owner (Dennis Quaid, Enemy Mine); his wide eyed son (Lucas Black, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift); a black, wounded-veteran cook (Charles S. Dutton, Alien 3); and a family from the city, stranded thanks to their BMW breaking down, which includes a bitchy wife (Kate Walsh, Grey's Anatomy).
You've got a great idea, a very good cast, and no execution at all. The film fails to build tension because it relies on predictable action, torturously long preachy monologues, and four cool bits that are shown in the trailer. Legion screams low-budget film by only ever showing two angels up close, and relying on zombie humans for the rest of the menace. All of that wouldn't be so bad if it also didn't mishandle the tempo of the piece by inserting long stretches of bad dialogue with nothing happening. It's certainly a case where there's just not enough of the good stuff to make up for all the bad moments which overwhelm Legion.
The DVD looks just fine. A super widescreen transfer is pretty enough even in low resolution to look rich on your screen, though the film is murky and often overly dark on purpose. Sound works very well with an active five channels delivering all the flapping and machine gun fire of the apocalypse. Extras include three very well-produced featurettes which give great insight into the film and what they were going for. They show how the best parts of the film were made.
I will give it up that there are probably three or four cool scenes in the film including: the old lady, the ice cream man, the young kid, and the final angel fight between Gabriel and Michael. The film may not work overall, but the DVD is almost worth checking out simply to see the handful of parts that do work. Smartly enough, even the extras know which sequences to focus on, and so the home experience does revolve around the strong bits of the film.
There is no salvation for Legion, no matter how much faith in action angels you have. It has a great idea and a solid cast, but it misses completely when it comes to pacing and plot. There just isn't more here than a good trailer and a cool poster. Legion is one of those films you write off as a painfully missed opportunity. I'm afraid if God does get angry with humans it may be because we can't figure out how to make a decent horror flick with His angels.
Guilty of committing the ultimate sin of being boring, Legion is left
as food for fallen angels.
Review content copyright © 2010 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Screen Gems
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R