Review of Legion


Movie Review: "Legion"

-- Rating: R (strong bloody violence, language)
Length: 100 minutes
Release Date: January 22, 2010
Directed by: Scott Charles Stewart
Genre: Action/Fantasy/Thriller

"Legion" takes a very high religious concept and turns it into an apocalyptic action ride full of blood, guts and graphic violence. It stars Paul Bettany as the Archangel Michael, whom God has sent down to murder Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), who is heavily pregnant with a baby that will be humanity's next savior, much like Jesus was in the Bible.

The problem is, in the nine months since Charlie got pregnant, God has become fed up with humanity and doesn't want the savior to be birthed. He has lost all faith that humans will ever coexist peacefully without war and greed. He is despondent that nobody seems to be paying attention to his message. He tasks all the archangels with possessing humans to kill other humans, eradicating the human race entirely. Because Michael is one of his right-hand angels, he sends him on the particularly sensitive task of killing Charlie.

Charlie is not exactly who you think God would pick to give birth to humanity's next savior. First, she doesn't even know who the father of her child is. It could be a number of local guys who she had relations with during around the time she got pregnant. Second, she is shown smoking, even it is very clear that she is about to pop at any moment. A promiscuous, smoking mother is the exact opposite of the virginal Mary, who gave birth to humanity's first savior, Jesus. Perhaps this is why she was chosen to be the mother of the savior-nobody would ever suspect her, and the child would be safe until he reached adulthood.

Charlie is a waitress in a dumpy diner in the desert near Las Vegas. It is owned by Bob Hanson (Dennis Quaid), who never met a beer he didn't like. Bob has a son, Jeep (Lucas Black), who is a mechanic. On the day that Michael comes down from heaven, the diner doesn't have too many patrons. There is Kyle (Tyrese Gibson), a young man who has violent tendencies, and the Anderson family, Audrey, Sandra and Howard (Willa Holland, Kate Walsh and Jon Tenney), are stranded there with a broken-down car that Jeep is trying to fix. In addition, short-order cook Percy (Charles S. Dutton) and Gladys (Jeanette Miller), a profane older woman, are also there.

None of these characters realize that Michael, who has graphically cut off his wings so that he can remain inconspicuous, is about to bring the apocalypse to their tiny diner. Michael has not lost faith in humanity yet, and he decides to deliberately disobey God and not kill Charlie. He feels if he can keep her alive long enough to give birth, perhaps God will give humanity a second chance. Hot on his heels is the Archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand), who has no intention of defying God. He decides he will kill Charlie himself, and he will also kill Michael for going rogue.

As Gabriel and humans possessed by archangels begin to descend upon the diner, the scene is set for lots of bloody shoot-'em-up action. Director Scott Charles Stewart used to be a cinematographer before he decided to try his hand at directing. His experience in framing shots and capturing entire scenes is on full display in "Legion." Some of the way the action scenes are played out is almost breathtaking on the screen. The editing of these scenes is superb, which only adds to the overall effect. When some of these scenes are playing out on the screen, the plot almost seems secondary.

Stewart also co-wrote the script with Peter Schink, whose previous work was mostly in the editing department. The combination of an editor and cinematographer brings out some great screen work. Of course, none of that would matter unless Bettany and company turn in good performances. They do, especially considering that playing famous Biblical archangels is not easy. Bettany displays all the desperation you would expect from a supernatural being who is trying to save an entire race of people from extinction.

The concept is very high-minded, but it is obvious who you are supposed to be rooting for. Despite the fact that God has ordered these murders to take place, the audience will squarely be in Michael's corner as he fights to change God's mind. Just be glad that Stewart and Schink decided to allow the audience to come along for Michael's daring ride.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars