Where Angels Fiercely Tread
Films with angels as characters usually fascinate me. Sadly, Legion is not one of them. Its story makes no sense, and the movie’s underlying religious theme rings false. Still, Paul Bettany’s strong performance -- as an angel who disobeys God -- rises above the material, and a couple of supporting cast members succeed in delivering watchable turns here.
God, who’s finally given up on us, sends a legion of angels to destroy humankind. Fortunately, the angel Michael (Bettany) wants to give mankind another chance. He cuts off his magnificent wings, joins a small group of people at a desolate diner, and helps them in a terrifying battle against hordes of angels who have taken over the bodies of other humans -- and quite hideously in some cases. Michael appears especially interested in saving the pregnant waitress (Adrienne Palicki) and her unborn child. Also present at the diner are: its cynical owner (Dennis Quaid); his helpful son (Lucas Black), who loves the waitress even though she’s carrying someone else’s baby; a non-local customer (Tyrese Gibson) who knows how to handle a gun; the concerned diner partner (Charles S. Dutton); and a stranded dysfunctional family (Jon Tenney, Kate Walsh and Willa Holland). Will Michael and this motley crew be able to win the battle against God and those fiercely determined angels?
Frankly, I can’t believe I wrote that last sentence. God and the angels as the Bad Guys? Puh-leez. And remember, this is not a comedy. In fact, there’s not one bit of comic relief during the entire movie. Plus where is the Devil? He probably read through the script and said, “My work is done here.”
On a positive note, the angel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) looks absolutely splendid in his confrontations with Michael. Gabriel’s amazing wings are intact, so he uses them as weapons as well as for transportation. And Bettany’s Clint Eastwood-like portrayal of Michael certainly held my attention. I’m not surprised, for this versatile actor has impressed me before in such diverse roles as the deliciously flamboyant Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale, the fiery Dustfinger in Inkheart, and the calm, smooth Lord Melbourne in The Young Victoria. Other standouts in the cast include Gibson (Annapolis), mostly because of his usual screen charisma, and Black (All the Pretty Horses), who gives a heartfelt performance as a good guy in love. I would be remiss not to also mention Jeanette Miller for her brief contribution as a very scary senior citizen.
Although Legion pays homage to It’s a Wonderful Life in an early scene, don’t expect any of its angels to look and behave like the mild-mannered one in that classic film -- or, for that matter, like John Travolta’s amusing Michael. The angels in Legion are out for blood, and it’s not a pretty sight.
(Released by Screen Gems and rated “R” for strong bloody violence and language.)
For more information about Legion, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.