Notable Cast: Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Dennis Quaid, Kevin Durand, Adrianne Palicki
Review: Despite several setbacks in the theater that delayed my viewing of this movie, which in retrospect could be interpreted as messages from God warning me of what I was about to watch, I sat through the entire film. First off, we had to get one of the employees to start the movie because apparently they forgot when the movie was supposed to start, or were just surprised anyone showed up. Then, about 15 minutes into the movie, the reel melted, forcing me and the 6 other patrons in the theater to sit through a 15 minute wait while they spliced the movie together and made it watchable. For the third sign, just as quickly as they got the movie playing again, the lights went out completely, the sound cut out, and the screen went to black. If that wasn’t God telling me not sit through what I was about to watch, I’m not sure what else he could have done. This was a film that suffered from that fact that it tried to be too serious for its own good and tried to invest me in characters that were so poorly developed, and created for that matter, I can’t even remember most of their names. If you want to see this movie, do yourself a favor and don’t watch the trailer because it is one of the biggest misrepresentations of what a film really is that I have ever seen.
The plot of the movie is very simple. God has lost his faith in humanity and decided to send an army of angels to earth to perform an extermination of the human race. Unfortunately, one of God’s most trusted angel generals Michael, played by Paul Bettany (The Da Vinci Code/A Knight’s Tale/Wimbledon), still has a soft spot for humans and does not think the extinction is necessary. Michael instead wants to give humans another chance. He comes to Earth before God’s army and humanizes himself by chopping off his wings. This act makes him vulnerable to the same things as humans, but it is the only way Michael can stop the impending doom the army of unstoppable holy angels brings to the Earth. Next we meet the father and son team of Bob and Jeep Hanson (Dennis Quaid and Lucas Black respectively), who own a small dive diner/garage in Paradise Falls aka the middle of nowhere. Also there is Percy the cook (Charles S. Dutton), and pregnant waitress Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) who is cared for by Bob and Jeep. The only business the shack has is a family of three, the Andersons, whose car broke down and had no choice but to stop in at Paradise Falls to get it fixed. The last of the diner guests is Kyle Williams (Tyrese Gibson) who is terribly lost on the way to a court date with his wife. Unfortunately, being in the middle of nowhere, none of these people know the danger that is surrounding them. The first angel that gets into the diner is an old woman, exclaiming that “the child will burn” in reference to the child that Charlie is pregnant with. After the characters fight off the elderly assassin, Michael arrives at the diner and delivers the message that the confused diners are reluctant to accept:God has given up on mankind and the only hope for its survival is keeping Charlie protected so she can give birth to her child which is the key that will keep mankind alive. The rest of the movie is made up of the survivors attempt to fortify and hold the diner under the leadership of the once great angel Michael against an army of angels sent by God under the lead of the angel Gabriel.
Doesn’t sound too bad right? There was definite potential here, which is why I gave the movie a shot in the first place. The action scenes were well done and Paul Bettany played a pretty good stereotypical “badass.” But it was hard for the film to get any momentum rolling because of all the filler in between the action. The filler were these scenes where two characters would be talking and having a heart to heart about some random topic to try and establish some sort of relationship between the viewer and them. Jeep particularly got on my nerves from the start, having to hear over and over again about how he’s no good for anything, has no purpose, and worries about everything. He keeps going on and on about how he’ll never come through in the clutch and he’ll always freeze up when it matters. (I won’t say it, but guess what character arc he follows) He was especially worried about Charlie, the pregnant waitress. She of course is the key to humanities survival, so she is somewhat memorable because of the role she plays in the plot. But again, another character that has no faith in herself. So now we have two characters whining about how he/she isn’t ready to deal with reality. Bob tries to play the tough guy, but apparently whining runs in the family because he starts too and it is so hard to having any sort of connection because him and his son are more annoying than likable. Then there’s Kevin, Tyrese’s character, that could have just been renamed “generic African-American stereotype”. He ultimately serves no purpose for being there and was one of the character’s I tried to recall after the movie, but really could not even remember what his name was. Then the cook Percy? I think he was supposed to be the religious one in the group, mentioning he had to grab his bible at one point to pray. There had to be one in the group because this is a movie that involves God and religion so someone had to be the voice of reason to back Michael and his story to people like Bob who “don’t believe in god”. I wouldn’t know, though, because I can’t remember Percy getting more than a line in here or there over Jeep’s whining and Bob trying to play the father who is the polar opposite. Then of course the family in the diner is your stereotypical family that can’t get along, complete with the rebellious teen. There was no real personality and all the characters came off as dull stereotypes with no defining features. The cast can be renamed “hillbilly father and son”, “cook”, “African-American stereotype”, “stereotypical dysfunctional family”, Charlie, and the archangel Michael. In the end, with the exception of Michael, the characters are forgettable.
The problems in the movie’s pace came from continuously and abruptly ending the short segments of momentum it could muster. The movie would have an excellent battle scene, but then destroy any interest by having too much of a lull in between the next captivating scene. For example, one minute the gang is locked in a heated battle, keeping angels from breaking into the diner, and the next minute Tyrese is talking to the daughter of the family about her ex-boyfriends. How that fit into the plot? It didn’t. The film was too focused on characters that lacked depth with personal issues which proved irrelevant. This is a fatal flaw that plagues many movies in the action genre. Yes, a roughly decent script is where interest starts. But even if the script isn’t up to par, adequate stylistic action helps to provide enough entertainment to keep interest. Smokin’ Aces stands out in my mind as an action movie with those types of characteristics. It wasn’t the most complicated plot, but the action was so well done and frequent it ended up winning me over in the end. In Legion however, I found myself sitting through these such scenes barely listening, waiting for the next time Michael straps up his ammo and goes into battle. Which, I have to say, was not nearly enough. I came into this movie to watch what I thought would have been action scene after action scene as waves of angels siege the diner. What I got was one big wave of attackers, a lot of sitting around and waiting (the mindless chatter between the characters), a small attack here and there when things got too dull (to the director), and a great fight scene towards the end between the mortal Michael and the angel Gabriel. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to get me the enjoyment I thought I could have potentially gotten from the fun action movie I thought I was going to see.
In the end, Legion gets caught up trying to be too serious for its own good. I went into the movie for an action thrill, the biggest part that Legion was lacking. There was too much time spent trying to develop characters that were not even likable, and they end up being nothing more than forgettable stereotypes we have seen over and over again. Legion lacked any real edge at all to set it aside from any other sub par action film, and falls into the rest of a pack of action films that fail to deliver anything new to the genre. I will admit the Grandma scene was hilarious though. Try imagining the sweetest old woman saying the most offensive words you can think of. I tried to convince myself that scene made the movie worth it, but sadly even Grandma could not save Legion from its own impending doom.
Final Rating: 4 whiny annoying characters out of 10