LEGION Review

Posted by John Gholson - January 21st 2010 @ 4:51 pm

Directed by Scott Stewart, 2010
Written by Peter Schink, Scott Stewart


Joining the ranks of Night of the Living Dead, Assault on Precinct 13, Demon Knight, From Dusk Till Dawn, Feast, Maximum Overdrive, and a host of other “siege” horror films, comes Legion, an unrepentantly dopey fantasy-action-horror hybrid built upon the idea that God hates us all.  Personally, I don’t believe that God hates us all, but He’s got to be a little peeved at director Scott Stewart for casting Him as the villain in such a stupid genre exercise.

The nicest thing I can say about Legion is that it’s conventional.  All of the elements and characters you’d expect from a siege movie are here — a remote location (deserts work best), a stranger with a past, a single mom, a bickering married couple, a wise black guy, a local bohunk who can’t live up to his full potential as long as he stays in this dead-end town, and a dude that shows up out of nowhere and starts barking orders because he’s the only one that knows exactly what’s going on.  You even get the “don’t open that door or we’re all dead” scene several times, which, in all honesty, kind of loses its impact after the first time when they don’t end up “all dead”.

What sets Legion apart is its faithful devotion to spiritual hooey.  The gist is that God is fed up with “all the bullshit” (as explained to us in Adrienne Palicki’s voiceover at the start of the film and repeated verbatim at the end, for those of us who can’t remember things that happened ninety minutes ago).  He sends the archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) down to a greasy-spoon diner to kill the unborn baby of Palicki’s character, Charlie, for no specific reason (Some lip service is paid to Charlie’s baby being the thing that will save mankind, whatever that means.  This movie doesn’t like dealing in specifics).  Michael changes his mind, decides to save the baby, and basically screws things up for the whole world — causing an unstoppable horde of angel-possessed human monsters and rival archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand, most famous for playing lunkheads) to try and finish the job.

The first angel-possessed person appears as a kindly old granny before spitting out a couple of unexpected f-bombs and scampering up the ceiling like a bug in a lunatic scene that provides about ten seconds worth of consideration that the movie might actually be entertaining.  When that attack is followed by one from an ice cream man, I started to wonder if the film would continue presenting goody-goody archetypes one-after-the-other only to shock you with the revelation that they were indeed monsters in disguise.  I was right.  The next attack featured a pretty little girl with a sundress and a balloon.  The one after that had an adorable toddler with an Eight is Enough Adam Rich bowl cut.

They do break things up a bit by having a demolition derby car crammed with punk rockers get theirs at the end of a machine gun wielded by the Stranger with a Past (Tyrese Gibson), an image that defines Legion’s retarded sensibilities.  The whole movie is that nonsensical,trying to force siege movie cliches to marry something that resembles Constantine, if Constantine was being retold to you by a grade schooler.  Nothing is ever explained in a worthwhile fashion, nothing ever pays off, nothing ever excites.  Director Scott Stewart’s idea of an action scene consists entirely of someone firing a gun in every direction.

His horror scenes are equally incomprehensible.  In one, a character is not just crucified upside-down (what?), but he’s covered in computer-generated throbbing boils that eventually explode, causing another character’s back to be wounded to the point where his spine is completely exposed.  It’s a “huh, cool” gore moment that also makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Legion’s other problem is its chemistry-free cast.  Adrienne Palicki, the least well-known member of the cast, is also about the only one who doesn’t come across as completely awful.  Lucas Black, on the other hand, gives a career-worst performance as that local bohunk I mentioned earlier.  He’s earnest — oh, so very earnest –delivering his every twangy line with a furrowed brow and his very best intense stare.  Charles S. Dutton (as the wise black guy), usually reliable, overshoots his acting, turning drama into melodrama.  Dennis Quaid (playing Black’s dad) gives the kind of performance you’d expect from someone who sees themselves as better than the material.  Bettany is completely out of his element as a B-movie action hero, too stuffy to be having a lick of fun, too self-important to be the slightest bit self-aware.

Ultimately, Legion doesn’t work for the exact same reasons.  It doesn’t seem to be aware that its following in the footsteps of a couple dozen similar (and better) films.  By giving the siege movie a religious spin, it wants to be taken as deadly serious and geek chic cool.  I would never describe Legion as fun (it needed way more scenes like the one with granny; less scenes of Durand and Bettany waxing philosophical on the wants and needs of an angry God), but I would describe it as dumb.  I don’t think that’s what they were going for.

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rss 24 comments
  1. January 21st, 2010 | 5:12 pm | #1

    My friends and I have been howling at the trailer for this and dying to see it for MST3K-esque purposes, but the fact that they don’t even try to explain their moronic faux religious-iness sounds like it might suck all the fun out of even that kind of a viewing. D’oh. Thanks for the review/warning.

    By the by, Stewart is doing ANOTHER film with Bettany this year called “Priest.” Here’s IMDB’s plot synopsis:

    “A priest disobeys church law to track down the vampires who kidnapped his niece.”

    TREMENDOUS.

  2. January 22nd, 2010 | 9:20 am | #2

    EXUBERANCE!

  3. January 22nd, 2010 | 9:32 pm | #3

    i second both sentiments

  4. Randy
    January 23rd, 2010 | 3:08 pm | #4

    Your name sake Peter, was crucified upside down. Or maybe that was Paul, can’t remember. Don’t think he had any CGI boils though…

  5. Kiko
    January 28th, 2010 | 11:24 am | #5

    this movie is just plain nuts…

    movie trying to be gory, trying to be scary, and trying to have story depth…

    but it sucks. senseless story. no development. ending is not justified… oh wait, the movie it self is not justified. waste of time and money

    biggest regret in life so far is watching this…

  6. samie B
    January 28th, 2010 | 7:03 pm | #6

    ugh WTF i past out maybe twice? this movie had the worst action. no gore, violence was amateur,they talked way to much about garbage… story left me with so many questions… i thought the WHOLE world was being exterminated, but it was only where they were located. What was up with the gay scene with the angels? blah i want my money back. They gas’ed this movie up so much

  7. Brandon
    January 28th, 2010 | 11:56 pm | #7

    I actually liked the movie, it lacked alot of stuff but, the stuff it does have make it worth watching. 3 1/2 out 5. And not to mention the Arch angel, and The Angel that changed his mind about the baby, That fight between the two was pretty damn good.

  8. Alice
    January 29th, 2010 | 5:36 pm | #8

    Saw this movie. What a joke. Gabriel and Michael fighting to the death? Seriously? Angels inhabiting the weak-minded and then using their bodies to eat and kill people? Riiiight. Watching it was a total waste of my life. Paul Bettany is this movie’s ONLY redeeming quality, and that’s because he’s pretty sexy.

  9. Michael
    January 30th, 2010 | 4:59 pm | #9

    you’re all retarded, the movie wasn’t trying to be action-packed, scary, or gory, because it obviously wasn’t. i think it’s trying to make a statement. “fuck god, don’t give him what he “wants” do something for yourself.” The movie was more like a thriller, being in the same genre as movies like something starring robert deniro or ray liotta or something gay like that, i think it succeeded. it was an interesting movie with a different approach on religion. god should hate for being so easily led into bullshit, like, uh, RELIGION

  10. Pat
    January 31st, 2010 | 12:44 am | #10

    This movie sucked balls. dont see it. end of story.

  11. Michael B
    January 31st, 2010 | 2:02 pm | #11

    Movie was terrible. People in the theater were laughing at the dramatic parts and making fun of it throughout. Only fun to watch if you feel like making fun of a movie.

  12. R.J. Sayer
    February 1st, 2010 | 10:24 am | #12

    saw it the other night.

    i will say this for it: you could make one HELL of a drinking game out of all the repetition in this film.

    fun fact: EVERY SINGLE “HUMAN” CHARACTER cries or starts to cry in at least one scene. Both of the main Angels too…

  13. Michael
    February 1st, 2010 | 12:55 pm | #13

    It wasn’t that bad. Sure it used alot of cliches but they all do now. And you all missed the point, which wasn’t “screw God” at all. It was that there are still plenty of good worthy people in the world even though it always seems so bad.

    And if you were paying attention at the end, Michael confirms this through his dialogue with Gabriel (final confrontation).

  14. God of Creation
    February 1st, 2010 | 3:43 pm | #14

    See, my problem was the story. If GOD wanted to kill an unborn child, why not just make a meteor smash the diner? Not only that, but what the f*** were angels doing possessing people and then “eating” them? I would think an angel would find a more civilized way to kill someone than “biting out his throat!”

    The ending was badly written (as was most of the movie) and I did not like the fact that the director made Micheal and Gabriel fight. If God wanted someone dead, it’d be done. No matter how many guns and flamethrowers you got.

    The message of the movie was just a middle finger to religion. God is all knowing, I hope he obliterates the scum that made this nefarious film.

  15. Outlaw
    February 1st, 2010 | 11:00 pm | #15

    the only reason people went and watch this movie is because of its trailer…

    its the most confusing, idiotic movie ever…the movie doesnt make sense..

    the acting was worst…the story was stupid…

    Angel possessed humans with sharp teeths?? wtf
    …cmonnn…
    God could have smite that diner with a lightening bolt, end of story…

  16. Aslan
    February 7th, 2010 | 5:55 pm | #16

    This movie was one huge anti-abortion commercial, to be honest. Charlie hated her baby and we couldn’t even sympathize with her because she had the emotional depth of a teaspoon. Not to mention that they never really gave us a reason to hate the bastard child other than Charlie was afraid to have it. Every mother is afraid to have their child, it’s a common anxiety, so you have to give us a better reason than that.

    Other than the blatant moral pushing, the movie was packed with useless filler talk and greatly lacked in back story and plot. I was bored to tears, as was the rest of the theater. It’s not worth the money.

  17. 24 is real
    February 10th, 2010 | 5:09 pm | #17

    Dead tone was off the hook. I strongly advise anyone who loves horror films to go see this flick. Its Crazy!

  18. meee!
    February 18th, 2010 | 8:00 pm | #18

    i LOVED the old lady who says the baby is gonna buirn, and the lil kid it was scary and everyone in the movie theater i was in screamed at times,the only bad part was the ending, I DID NOT FUCKING GET IT! after all the fightin between “angels” and now he just flies away ?!?!? and what happened to the zombie thingys did they just go back to being people. or are there still an invsaion army of them ? anyway the ending sucked but i liked the movie

  19. sob
    May 2nd, 2010 | 1:43 am | #19

    I don’t understand the whole movie.. Only fully understand once reading the synopsis.. Thrillers always better than the real movies…

  20. John
    May 13th, 2010 | 10:03 pm | #20

    I really appreciate that we have a blog to get this stuff off our chests, and in that spirit. WTF!!! That movie was crap. I mean the idea itself could have been great… and some parts were admittedly fascinating, like a granny in a stroller climbing up walls. And well the actors/actresses were pretty cool, but… wtf kinda sacrilegious crap is the plot? I don’t even know where to begin, so I won’t attempt it. I’m just astounded that such a great idea could be warped so badly into creating the junk that I just watched… exasperating

  21. Braelynn
    November 13th, 2010 | 11:25 pm | #21

    Either way, the movie was okay. The person who played Micheal, Paul, he was just plain up sexy. I loved his voice. And plus, Gabriel is the messenger, he dont fight. Micheal is the mighty warrier. God don’t give up on anything. OH WELL!

  22. November 18th, 2010 | 4:34 pm | #22

    The unborn child that is supposed to save mankind seems like some sort of second Christ figure. However, the movie does not explain what the child is supposed to save mankind from. The vagueness of the storyline was the biggest flaw of this pathetic film.

  23. February 21st, 2011 | 11:56 pm | #23

    I don’t know why all of you are hating on this movie. I liked it. God isn’t seen as a bad guy, he is just angry at us like during the flood. If your not a hater, watch this movie.

  24. Beauty
    January 4th, 2012 | 4:52 pm | #24

    I really liked this movie for what it was. I actually found a new love for Paul Bettany after watching this movie. If you haven’t seen the movie Legion, be sure to check it out. If you have DISH you should get the Blockbuster Movie Pass for only $10.00 a month (Free for new customers) and you can get it without paying for it. You can also get other movie or stream with the Blockbuster Movie Pass. More reason to get the Blockbuster Movie Pass. Don’t let reviews stop you from checking out movies like Legion. I liked it and as a customer and employee of DISH, I recommend both of them!

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