Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Legion" (2010)

Starring Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid and Lucas Black
Written by Peter Schink and Scott Stewart
Directed by Scott Stewart

Every so often, a movie comes around that is just so totally absurd that you almost feel like you need to watch it again just to make sure that you weren't dreaming the first time.  "Legion" is one of those movies.

The story (heh) concerns the archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) who comes to Earth and removes his wings and begins to arm himself.  He's soon set upon by two police officers, one of whom is suddenly possessed by some kind of creature, warning him against his plans.  He kills the creature and takes the police car.

Next we're introduced to a small roadside diner in the desert owned by Bob Hanson (Dennis Quaid).  At the diner that day are Percy (Charles S. Dutton), the diner's one-handed cook, Sandra Anderson (Kate Walsh) and her husband Howard (Jon Tenney) and their daughter Audrey (Willa Holland) whose car has broken down.  They're waiting for Bob's son Jeep (Lucas Black) to repair it so they can continue their journey to Scottsdale ("The worst place imaginable").  Also at the diner is Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), the very pregnant young waitress and object of Jeep's affections.  Soon enough, a lost driver pulls up looking for directions and a phone: Kyle (Tyrese Gibson).


Not long after, an old woman pulls up and orders a rare steak.  At first, she seems nice, but she begins to taunt the other diner patrons, even telling Charlie that her child will burn in hell.  Suddenly, she reveals her true nature: she's possessed, just like the cop Michael killed.  Though freaked out, the diner patrons are able to kill her, but not before she's able to tear out Howard's throat... with her teeth.

Michael arrives, armed and ready for battle.  He explains to the surviving diner patrons what's going on, and somehow they end up believing him.  He hands them guns and tells them they need to get ready for the coming battles and that Charlie's baby is, uh, the new messiah.  Basically what happens for the rest of the movie follows that pattern: they're stuck in the diner, armies of possessed creatures outside. 

The twist, of course, is that these people are not possessed by the armies of Hell... but the armies of Heaven.  Michael, it turns out, learned of God's plan to destroy humanity, having grown tired of their "bullshit".  He defied God to come to Earth and protect Charlie's baby, which he was originally tasked with killing.  When Charlie has her baby, God sends another angel, Gabriel (Kevin Durand), to end the situation once and for all.

"Legion" is a pretty bad movie.  The characters are all extremely basic, and none are particularly memorable in any way.  Even Paul Bettany's Michael is just your basic gravely-voiced badass, even if he's supposedly some epic archangel.  The dialogue is just as bad, full of ridiculously over-blown lines like "War is coming to humanity, whether you wish it or not.  The dogs of Heaven will be unleashed!"  Or how about this exchange: "I don't believe in God." "Well that's just fine, Bob; He doesn't believe in you, either."

How about the action set pieces?  They're decent, if unremarkable.  Motion capture Mr. Awesome Doug Jones makes an appearance as a creepy ice cream salesman who morphs into some kind of crazy creature with elongated limbs and huge teeth.  But for the most part, the action in "Legion" consists mostly of firing guns at people who can climb on the ceiling.  Michael gets a decent hand-to-hand fight against Gabriel at the film's climax, and that's probably the most memorable action sequence in the movie.

There's a kernel of interesting ideas at play in "Legion," but the execution is laughably bad.  In that sense, "Legion" is worth watching.  But if you're expecting a good movie, forget it.