Maybe it's been widely known for ages and I'm just out of the loop from too many nights suckling from the Netflix nipple, but I recently read a couple articles about Insane Clown Posse and how they're actually a ninja Christian rock band. Think of that: thousands of face-painted Juggalos and Juggalettes out there rebelling against mom, dad, mom's pool boy concubine and Principal Hardass when actually they're getting straight with the Big Man without even knowing it. There's a definite parallel with Legion
Just prior to the premiere of Legion
there was a good amount of ballyhoo concerning the film's blasphemous take on the Second Coming, what with angels possessing people, survivors gunning down said angels and then God changing his mind about us kids at the end, thus implying fallibility. If director Scott Stewart
did have that intention initially it must have been trampled under a stampede of Bible Belt focus groups and quietly buried, because this movie's plot felt more like a long-winded anti-abortion message coupled with a misguided attempt to get kids interested in Jesus by showing that there's a ton of wicked gruesome stuff in the Bible. Legion
is a George Romero
zombie flick meets Left Behind
(minus the always-entertaining Kirk Cameron
), and while it seems like such a mixture must surely create a potent...something...the truth, unfortunately, is that it just fizzles out.
I find it wonderfully ironic that Paul Bettany
, a former Catholic-cum-atheist, has taken a lead role in what has to be one of the most overtly religious mainstream films since The Passion of the Christ
. Exacerbating that irony is that Bettany, who plays the rebellious angel Michael, could probably use a little help from the man upstairs to get his career back off the tarmac and sailing back in the clouds at about the altitude it occupied around five years ago, when he was riding high on A Beautiful Mind
, Master and Commander
. The deity who allowed Legion
to be made though, they're not having any of it.
In the man's defense, though, Legion
's issues lie in everything but the casting. The movie opens with the angel Michael falling face first into a dark and stormy downtown Los Angeles. Seemingly cast out of heaven with only a knife and poncho he cuts his wings off and then uses, I don't know, some kind of angelic firearm homing radar ability to immediately locate and abscond with a warehouse full of assault rifles. He's stopped outside by two officers, but after one gets possessed in a manner that can only be described as the mightiest epileptic fit that ever was and offs his partner, the now-mortal Michael is forced to dispatch this first of many celestial foes.
The story then jumps to a run-down truck stop diner in the middle of the Mojave Desert where we meet the bulk of Legion
's earthly cast: Charlie ( Adrianne Palicki
), a waitress pregnant with the Second Coming himself; Jeep ( Lucas Black
), a mechanic who holds a flame for Charlie; his world-weary father, Bob ( Dennis Quaid
); Kyle ( Tyrese Gibson
), a lost single father trying to make a custody hearing; the diner's one-handed cook, Percy ( Charles S. Dutton
); and finally the Anderson family, a trio of thoroughly useless Yuppies whose BMW decided to break down there. The first inkling that something might be amiss out in the world is the loss of radio and TV reception followed by a visit from Gladys, an old woman who chomps down a fly-covered rare steak and proclaims cheerfully that "All the little babies are going to burn." In the same way that South Park
's foul-mouthed young hellions make us chuckle so, seeing this Golden Girls
hopeful mouth off and bite out the jugular from an adult man is riotously entertaining and may stand as the sole justification for watching Legion
From here the situation deteriorates fairly rapidly for the occupants of this truck stop Alamo. Michael arrives and lays down the 411--that God has just about had it up to here with mankind and is turning this crazy station wagon around--then doles out guns to everybody before an evil ice cream man heralds the arrival of the titular legion of possessed minions who quickly surround the joint. There are a couple of moral quandaries along the way and a lot of gunpowder burned as a perimeter against the mob is established while Charlie gives birth, but no real genre-busting surprises that a hundred other supernatural action flicks haven't thrown at audiences in the past.
From almost every angle imaginable Legion
feels like one of the laziest action movies ever made. Excepting the final showdown between Michael and Gabriel, not a single action scene is much more interesting than a trip to the firing range. The pacing is so rushed I have to wonder if the editor wasn't enjoying a nice light bulb of meth while they did their work the morning of its premiere. Honestly, is there a person alive who believes a first time labor lasts about fifteen minutes and the mother is able to get up and run around a couple minutes later? I guess special exceptions are made for women carrying the Son of God, but I'm still having trouble suspending disbelief.