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Review: Legion

There’s nothing worse than a disappointing movie. The plot is intriguing and the cast top-notch, yet Legion is an epic failure. It’s swallowed up by its effort to be a movie of multiple genres ultimately failing to attain any of the target thematic denominations. In fact, the only category Legion earns a place in is comedy for it achieves an amount of unwarranted laughs of biblical proportions.

Legion opens with an angel named Michael (Paul Bettany) falling to Earth. First order of business? Clip off those pesky wings. Next on the to-do list? Assemble a serious arsenal. After a quick chat with a possessed cop it’s off to the desert to unite with a group of people holed up in a diner. The phones are down, there’s no radio and they’ve just been attacked by a nasty grandma with a thing for rare meat and climbing up walls. Luckily for them, but unluckily for us, Michael comes to the rescue and to explain what in God’s name is going on.

Even with shoddy filmmaking, Legion is still tolerable up to this point. Poor character introductions are passable as long as there’s some meat to the story thereafter. The only meat in Legion is the steak left on Grandma Gladis’ plate. It tries to be serious, it tries to be funny and it tries to be scary, but doesn’t succeed at anything except being a waste of time.

The once promising premise runs into trouble when the details are unveiled. Michael used to be a general in God’s army, but when assigned to take out the baby brewing in diner waitress Charlie’s (Adrianne Palicki) belly, he goes rogue. God decides that he can’t take humanity’s crap anymore and Charlie’s baby is the key to ensuring the species’ demise. Now, Michael finds himself on the other side of the battle trying to protect the unborn child from an army of possessed-shark-toothed people.

He’s not a one-man army, but his backup isn’t much help. Charlie is on strict “don’t be brave” orders so that leaves the diner owner Bob (Dennis Quaid), his son Jeep (Lucas Black) and employee Percy (Charles S. Dutton). Bob is perpetually confused and when Jeep isn’t moping about Charlie’s lack of affection for him, he’s too afraid to arm up and be a man. Thankfully Percy has something to offer both Michael and the audience. He’s one of the film’s more dynamic and interesting characters and Dutton provides him with a nice degree of authenticity. Tyrese Gibson’s character, on the other hand, is an absolute joke. Tough guy Kyle rolls up in his big black SUV packing heat and mouth full of stereotypical and obnoxious dialogue. There’s also Sandra (Kate Walsh) and her rebellious daughter Audrey (Willa Holland). They’re mother/daughter strife is completely unfounded, but once Sandra is pushed into the background, Audrey has some engaging moments.

Palicki is wasted as Charlie. She’s got talent and a natural ability to acquire a sense of endearment, but she’s drowned in shoddy dialogue and a silly premise. The worst part about Charlie is her relationship with Jeep. Black puts on an emotionless performance. Putting on a puppy dog sad face isn’t going to earn you any of the audience’s sympathy, it’ll only render the character completely ineffective. Palicki shares her get-out-of-jail-free card with Bettany. He isn’t given much to work with, but manages to make Michael seem somewhat human and a rather fun hero.

That being said, Legion isn’t all bad. Even with zero emotional impact, Legion can be rather suspenseful. Waiting for the next evil thing to invade the diner is a seriously anxiety inducing experience. Unfortunately, this one plus ends up adding to the film’s grand disappointment. When a concept has so much potential and fails to deliver it falls hard. Legion has so much going for it that its poor quality is almost insulting.

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