US (dir. Scott Stewart)
Cast: Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Kate Walsh, Adrianne Palicki, Charles S. Dutton, Willa Holland
Synopsis: In the supernatural action thriller “Legion”, an out-of-the-way diner becomes the unlikely battleground for the survival of the human race. When God loses faith in Mankind, he sends his legion of angels to bring on the Apocalypse. Humanity’s only hope lies in a group of strangers trapped in a desert diner and the Archangel Michael.
Review: Scott Stewart’s “Legion” is an unintentionally comedic (and borderline sacrilegious) action based horror movie which could have easily been alternatively titled: “Angels with Submachine Guns”. It was released in January, a month film nerds like myself often refer to as Hollywood’s dumping ground for shamefully bad films. It’s almost an unwritten rule that anything coming to theatres in January is sub par at best, and “Legion” is a bright shining example of this. Although it must be noted that I didn’t need to know the movie’s release date to predict its suckage, because the trailer, and hell, the premise of angels fighting humans and other angels with military grade weaponry, were enough to make me feel questionable about the film’s quality.
It’s difficult for me to believe that Scott Stewart actually pitched the concept of this movie to studio executives, although it probably went a little something like this:
Stewart: I have a great concept for an action thriller horror film!
Studio Executive: Go on.
Stewart: Well there’s this one guy, okay, who uses a helluva lot of SMGs, rocket launchers, and assault rifles in order to protect a pregnant woman who may be carrying mankind’s only hope for salvation…
Studio Executive: I see… sounds a lot like “The Terminator”…
Stewart: No wait! It gets better! There’s this other guy who wants the baby, and the other guy, dead to please the leader of his organization and he has this cool mechanical spinning mace thing that…
Studio Executive: Ummm sorry, but that still sounds too much like “The Terminator”, Scotty.
Stewart: … Did I mention the two guys are… angels.
Studio Executive: Scotty, baby, I’m totally green-lighting this project.
… Yeah, it most likely went a little something like that.
Instead of providing us with explanations as to what is going on with the whole apocalypse situation, Stewart shoves down some unnecessary character development down the collective throat of the audience. Now, God knows I’m not one to complain about a lack of character development, but do we really need to know every single character’s back story drawn out in scenes where two characters have a “let’s get to know each other moment”? No! In a movie like “Dawn of the Dead” where you have a similar set up of a group of people holed up together as chaos ensues outside, none of the bullshit heart-to-heart moments were needed. You learned about the characters as the movie progressed, there didn’t need to be lengthy scenes dedicated solely to characters dropping tidbits of information about their lives, especially when it is pretty well expected that the character will die soon enough anyways and not really contribute to the movie at all (except as filler). Basically the over abundance of forced character development was thrown in to buffer all the action sequences, but unfortunately it reeks of way too much effort.
Another major problem with this movie, something you might come to see yourself about three-quarters of the way through, is that the movie feels a lot like Part One of ____. There are a lot of questions left unanswered, and there is way too much set up for a sequel. They even leave out explaining stuff that is actually kind of important to the story itself or stuff that an average audience member might be curious about such as: who is the baby’s father? What is this baby going to do in the future that makes him “mankind’s only hope for survival”? Who are the Prophets the Angel Michael mentions? Why does the Angel Michael have all those weird tattoos and why do they show up on the guy who is so protective of Charlie? Why is Charlie chosen to have the baby (especially when she’s about as white trash and irresponsible as can be – she fucking smokes while pregnant!)? Etc., etc., etc.
There are just too many questions for this film to stand on its own when so much of the film feels like a set up for a possible sequel (please, God, no). Sure the effects are pretty awesome (can’t go wrong with super creepy possessed grandmas with shark teeth and ice cream men with dis-locatable jaws), but sadly special effects do not a horror movie make, and I think that is one of the reasons Scott Stewart felt it necessary to funnel so much character development down the audience’s collective throat.
To be honest, I, and I’m sure many others, went into this movie expecting some serious angel ass-kicking coupled with angel fight sequences involving some hardcore weaponry. I, and likely many others, were not going out of our way to see “Legion” to see some highly developed (or in this case, half assedly developed) characterization interspersed throughout a time period of 1 hour and 40 minutes. Unfortunately, “Legion” doesn’t really deliver on the angel ass-kickery and the serious artillery. There are maybe two or three scenes at most where we get some pretty cool fight scenes with angels using their wings as weapons and there are cool flips and kicks and shit.
That being said, “Legion” is still a not too bad movie, but a pretty terrible standalone film (since I doubt anyone will commit to making the sequel). There are also way too many parallels to “The Terminator”. Charlie and her baby would essentially be Sarah Connor and John Connor. While Angel Michael would be Kyle Reese and Angel Gabriel would be The Terminator. Hell, in the ending, there’s even a whole Sarah Connor moment where Charlie drives off into the desert wearing a headband and giving a voice over.
So in essence, “Legion” is pretty much “The Terminator” but with angels. Oh and a lot more weapons too.
“Legion” is worth a look, maybe if you’re a fan of these types of religious based action horror movies (like “Constantine”), but by the end you will likely wind up praying to God that there won’t be a “Legion 2: Angels with Bigger Machine Guns”.