Movie review: Legion

“Legion” has all the ingredients to whip up a tasty B-flick – a serious actor doing genre work (Paul Bettany), unorthodox baddies (angels), a ragtag crew of folks holed up in a desolate location (roadside diner) and, most importantly, the great Dennis Quaid.

The results, however, are an undercooked mess that makes the biggest mistake a horror movie can make – leaving the viewer bored.

Aside from the creepy-crawly image of an old lady skittering up walls or an ice-cream man suddenly elongating his body and loping toward the camera (both of which were played ad nauseum during the film’s marketing campaign), there aren’t many scares to be had.

Instead, there are lots of questions. Here’s a few I had while trying to make sense of the film:

  • Why does the angel Michael (Paul Bettany) have a British accent when his brother Gabriel does not?
  • Did Quaid and Tyrese really have that much fun while making “Flight of the Phoenix” that they decided to team up again for this?
  • Will Lucas Black ever play any other role than kindly redneck?
  • Can I get my money back?

The plot revolves around renegade angel Michael heading to terrestrial level just ahead of some sort of angelic apocalypse on humankind. His quest is to save the unborn child that will help restore humanity in God’s eyes, even though he doesn’t hold people in high regard.

The child just so happens to belong to white trash waitress Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), a downright repulsive woman who smokes despite being eight months pregnant and who has little interest in keeping her child, being friendly, or doing anything remotely resembling a character we are supposed to care for.

When said old lady ambles into the diner run by Bob (Quaid) and his son Jeep (Black), it’s the beginning of an angelic attack that traps the assorted characters inside until the baby can be disposed of.

If the rest of the film had maintained the kinetic energy of the old lady scene, it would have been a wild ride. Instead, we are treated to the rarest of horror films – one that spends way too much time attempting to develop its cardboard characters.

Take, for instance, Jeep, whose character name should actually be Captain-Save-A-Ho, since he spends his time and energy pining over a girl who has zero interest in him. Both Bob and Michael give long and pondering speeches to Jeep, and yet nothing seems to get through.

Or the scene where the diner’s cook (Charles S. Dutton) chastises Kyle (Tyrese) for having a gun on his person, even though he Kyle was the one that managed to take out the old lady.

If I had written this movie, Kyle would have said, “What the fuck, man! I just saved your life and you’re hassling me about a handgun during the middle of a freakin’ angel invasion!” But the film has Kyle offer up some half-hearted speech about just keeping it for protection – a bit of dialogue that goes nowhere.

“Legion” doesn’t even have the dignity – or good sense – to give all of its characters heroic deaths. Several people die offscreen, which to me signals lackluster writing or a heavily reshot product.

Bettany plays his role with the right amount of gravitas, but he has to be wondering how in the hell he wound up in some half-cocked January horror release when he was supposed to be one of the next big things. No one else makes much of an impact, except Palicki, who proves herself to be an actress I don’t need to keep track of in the future.

I was hoping that “Legion” would buck the January trend, but there’s always a reason studios hide their junk until now, and in this case, Sony was right.

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~ by Elliott on January 23, 2010.

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