I’m a big fan of the Apocalypse as a genre. As I’m writing this I’m listening to Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. I’ve read a few of those Left Behind books (two in fact, but I gave up when it just felt too preachy to me). Stephen King’s The Stand is in my top three reads of all time (alongside Less Than Zero and Heart Of Darkness). The Battlestar Galactica reboot was all about what happens when a world is destroyed and how the survivors are supposed to carry on. And then there’s my fondness for films with the whole end of the world tone to them – if you think about it, that’s what the entire zombie genre is all about. A world destroyed and how people carry on.
That’s why I’ve been looking forward to seeing Legion since the red band trailer hit six or eight months ago. The end of the world is coming and an Angel has arrived to protect a mother and her unborn child from the war on earth. To these eyes the trailer looked pretty solid – some creepy effects and a decent cast (Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid were the folks I recognized). So one week after its release and a decent opening weekend, Scotty G and I made out way to the theater to check it out.
Legion starts out alright, though the opening is something pretty much right out of Terminators 1 through 3. We soon make our way to the desert diner where our disparate gang of citizens will be caught in the war to exterminate the human race – the hot young rebellious daughter and her uptight parents (one of whom is Private Practices’ Kate Walsh); the short order, short armed cook (Charles S. Dutton, playing once again exactly to type); the lost father on his way to a court case (Tyrese Gibson); the father and son who run the diner (Quaid and an awful Lucas Black), and the unwed soon to be mother/waitress (Adrianne Paliki). It’s a gathering of people which you’ve seen a thousand times and that leaves you simply wondering who gets killed off first.
The first forty-five minutes of Legion work pretty well, with the Angel Michael (Bettany) arriving on the scene in the nick of time to explain what’s going on and hand off a bevy of firearms to the gathered strangers as they fight of the coming army of angel sent by God, who has lost faith in the human race. But once the first battle concludes, what you’re then saddled with is a lot of dialogue between characters you just never really care about and Legions comes to almost a total stand still. Director Scott Stewart tries hard to get you invested in the characters, but since it was so obvious to me where things were heading it really just felt completely pointless. There are some decent action sequences, but when I knew exactly where the film was heading so early on I wound up shifting in my seat, wondering what whole point was.
One of the things Scotty G mentioned when we headed into Legion was that he wondered about was whether or not Paul Bettany could carry a film on his own. My take on that was that he does have the presence and charisma to do it; unfortunately Legion doesn’t give him very much to work with. His angel brood a bit and fires a lot of guns, but that’s about it. The guy can do better.
So in the end, thanks to its lacklustre script and total predictability, Legion will not be joining my list of Apocalypse favourites. But hey, even though I may have been disappointed by the movie, it’s not the end of the world.