Legion (2010)

Angel A wants to engage in combat with Angel B; however, Angel A is in possession of a melee weapon and is some distance from Angel B, who possesses a high powered, automatic rifle. To counter this, Angel A envelopes himself in the bullet proof wings that protrude from his back. Angel A can now safely approach Angel B unharmed and take the combat advantage.

In light of this information, please answer the following question: Why would Angel C, D, E and so on, take the defensive manoeuvre of possessing the bodies of frail, slow and, most importantly, wingless human beings?…hmmm…
Questions such as this will regularly cross your mind over the course of Scott Stewart’s Legion. It’s a film that flippantly breaks its own internal logic, either that, or it revels in a kind of idiot chaos, never structuring itself upon a spine of rules to begin with.

It is set in an apocalyptic world where celebrity seraphim, Michael – played by Paul Bettany – attempts to ward off a hoard of murderous angels in a dilapidated gas station in the middle of the New Mexico desert.
As if this wasn’t enough, he must also protect a prodigal Mary named Charlie – one Adrianne Palicki – who is about to give birth to the messiah who, by God’s decree, is to be aborted. It all sounds well and good on paper, but as it has already been said, Legion just can’t keep from f**king itself.

Frustratingly, the plot tends to withhold information for what the film makers must have mistaken as ‘dramatic effect’. Instead it just makes the proceedings feel haphazard and ugly, dangling story threads too numerous to count and never finishing them.
If they are concluded, they are done so in such a cavalier manner that the only reaction it demands is uproarious laughter. For instance; why IS Christie’s baby given Neo like significance? Is he a great descendant in the bloodline of Christ? Or is he the result of forbidden love, the spawn of an angel and a demon entangled in a blasphemous romance akin to Garth Ennis’ Preacher?
We never know and as a result, we never care about the baby, the cast or the end of the world.

Despite attempts to instil the characters with a sense of moral ambiguity, this is still very much the good vs evil school of justice. Gabriel may come close to rebelling against his father but, ultimately, he chooses the path of a child murderer which beckons his inevitable downfall. We know who we’re supposed to like and dislike which creates a series of passable but tired morality arcs.

Amongst a well of damning material, a neat idea or well timed performance will occasionally surprise you. Whenever Paul Bettany is let loose he gives the kind of weighty and majestic performance he is so famous for. Any scene in which he is paired off against the marvellously pantomime Kevin Durand – our Gabriel for the proceedings – we are treated to a wonderful lesson in how to not only chew, but utterly devour the scenery.
These moments are, however, too few and far between and just serve to remind the viewer of what could have been.

By and large the only real crime committed here is in playing it safe.
There seems to be an odd trepidation present that, if the film strays too far from its weather beaten path, the classical narrative that stretches out before it, that it may become lost and obscure, too strange and off kilter to attract a larger audience beyond its genre trappings.

The whole thing feels clichéd and underdeveloped and this, unfortunately, makes a fool of everyone involved.

Movie Rating: ★

★ ☆ ☆ ☆ 




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