QuickTakes: “Legion”

“Legion”

Georgetown Loews (Action/Adventure, Horror; R)

As writer and director, Scott Stewart must claim responsibility for “Legion.” His film tells the story of an apocalyptic adventure had by the Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany), who goes rogue after God decides to repeat the biblical purge of humanity. This time, He’s sent a “legion” of angels to possess the weaker members of society and take mankind out from the inside.

The basic, if somewhat flimsy, premise was clear from the previews; people who then decided to go and see the movie were probably hoping for a pleasant surprise. They didn’t get one: “Legion” is as much a disappointment as one can reasonably expect from its trailer.

Stewart did manage to shock audiences with one element: the apocalypse happens off screen! That’s right, this movie shows zero global destruction. Audiences were lured in with an appeal to their inner Thanatos, and were then denied the excitement of an Armageddon – even one as poorly conceived as that by Scott Stewart.

What’s left is a movie that takes itself way too seriously; it’s absolutely littered with theological discourse. For example, the story unfolds in the community of Paradise Falls – which, in keeping with the film’s spirit of distastefully conspicuous metaphors and botched biblical allusions, might just as easily been called Golden Turkey. Another instance of forced sanctimony occurs in the build-up to the first fight, when the audience is asked to pause while Michael expounds on the meaning and source of faith in his life.

The action-packed gun battles are interrupted again so that Michael can deliver the waitress’ baby. Michael explains that this baby is the hope for human continuity, that it must be protected at all costs, then says nothing more on the subject – like why the baby is so important.

“Legion” didn’t need to be such a disaster, which is probably the most frustrating thing of all. At its opening, Stewart provided the perfect cast of characters for a fun action film. He just killed them off too quickly. He also introduced some pretty terrific villains – the dirty-mouthed granny, the hellish ice-cream man – but, again, killed them off prematurely.

Finally, the movie’s end seems to be less the resolution to a really bad movie than a suggestion that there might be an even worse sequel. Let’s hope there isn’t.

“Legion” is half-heartedly recommended to fans of “The Prophecy” trilogy; see it fast though, because it’s unlikely it will be in theaters much longer.

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