Angels and Demons
A half-baked attempt at an epic struggle between good and -- well, good (in the guise of the bad) takes place in Legion. This religious fantasy presents a story about the fate of humankind resting on the birth of a child in the aptly named town of Paradise Falls in 2010. So I suppose a broken-down diner on the edge of the desert could be a worthy counterpart to a stable in Bethlehem for the birthplace of the second savior of the world.
Archangels Michael and Gabriel are charged with the job of stamping out the human race. Remember, God has unleashed his wrath on humans in the past. In Genesis, he sent the flood. On pharaoh, he visited a plague of locusts and turned the Nile into blood. This time, he deploys an army of possessed zombies. It seems God has a macabre sense of humor -- either that, or he’s watched too many George Romero films.
Angels and demons (no reference to Ron Howard intended) sent to destroy the world sounds like a good idea for a doomsday movie. The problem? Filmmakers stop at the idea stage and rush headlong into cobbling together some weird hybrid of Terminator, Aliens, and just about every zombie movie ever made, without any consideration of the story’s internal logic or sense.
In Legion, God has finally had enough of the mortals and decides to throw in the towel. But angel Michael (Paul Bettany) is certain God doesn’t know his own mind. So in an act of hubris, Michael rebels against his father because he still loves the wayward humans enough to protect the unborn child of a down-and-out waitress (Adrianne Palicki) who will be Christ’s successor. As Michael says to his brother angel Gabriel (Kevin Durand), “You give him (God) what he wants; I give him what he needs.” God is not only absent throughout the melee, he’s also confused, and remarkably tolerant of his underlings who disobey his orders.
The angels here don’t remotely resemble any I remember from that beloved children’s classic, A Child’s Story Bible. Doing an Arnold, the buffed up Michael dons a trench coat and totes a semi-automatic rifle as he shoots his way to the little desert town where the mother of the future savior and a band of other folks are holed up in a shabby diner. There’s a lot of gunfire in this movie. Who knew angels were so adept with firearms?
Given the limits of the script, actors Dennis Quaid, Charles S. Dutton, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, and Adrianne Palicki deliver decent performances. However, Paul Bettany rises above the clumsy material to establish a striking and magnetic presence as the warrior angel Michael, as does Kevin Durand, although the latter seems a little weak on the acting front. The martial-arts inspired combat between Michael and Gabriel is exhilarating to watch. But the rest of the show comes across as shallow, silly, and unintentionally funny.
Top marks must go to Gladys Foster in her small turn as an elderly diner. The sprightly senior citizen zombie, jumps, bites, and climbs the ceilings and walls in a manner that would make Spider-Man proud. Listening to the petite Foster growling and dropping the F- and C-bombs had me in stitches long after her disappearance from the screen.
(Released by Screen Gems and rated “R” for strong bloody violence and language.)
Review also posted at www.moviebuffs.com.