Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Directed by Scott Stewart
Starring Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palicki
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment UK
When your initial theatrical viewing of something that seemed so, so promising in the run-up to release leaves you nearly as disappointed as a child bereft of gifts on Christmas morning, you just can’t help but think “maybe another viewing will help me appreciate it more”. For those in the UK disappointed by Scott Stewart’s Legion, that time has now come with the film’s DVD and Blu-ray release. Unfortunately, in the case of this particular angelic mess, further viewings do absolutely nothing do make it any more enjoyable, watchable or coherent.
Legion’s storyline involves a group of folks at a secluded desert gas station/diner named Paradise Falls (ho ho ho), who find themselves the targets of a demonic (sorry, angelic) invasion of the Earth. Meanwhile, the archangel Michael has come to Earth in human form – abandoning his wings and halo in the process – in order to protect these particular individuals from the onslaught of the possessed. Well, rather, he’s there to protect annoying trailer-trash-mommy-to-be Charlie (Palicki) and her unborn child. Exactly WHY the child needs to be protected is anyone’s guess, as it certainly isn’t explained nor makes any damn sense whatsoever. Is the child supposed to be an imminent Messiah? If so, why the fuck has God ordered his angels to not only murder it, but the whole human race as well? If the entire human race is to be slaughtered, why focus on this child at all? It’s just another piece of meat for the grinder as far as the bigger picture is concerned…isn’t it?
Nonsense is a recurring theme in Legion. It’s like an entire menagerie of ideas was simply thrown together because they either (a) sound cool or (b) look cool. Whether or not they work to form any kind of actually cohesive narrative is an afterthought. Witness Michael blowing a giant, flaming, cross-shaped hole in a wall for no other reason than visual symbolism! Angels possess weak-willed humans, turning them into misshapen, wall-crawling, shrieking, black-eyed, fang-toothed monstrosities that appear to come straight from hell itself and enjoy nothing more than tearing their human victims limb from limb. So much for our angelic protectors, eh? The reason for all of this (well, besides the unexplained – and perhaps unexplainable – motivation of killing Charlie’s unborn child) madness? “Maybe he’s just tired of all the bullshit”.
Seriously. Okay, now that’s not an altogether bad idea for a horror flick, but just wait until the final moments of the film. It sounds as though Michael has pretty much wrapped things up as far as God’s intentions are concerned…but no! Legion continues to segue into an absolutely dumbfounding ripoff of The Terminator’s final scene. In fact, the parallels with The Terminator are so strong initially that I almost expected the first words out of Michael’s mouth when he hit the diner to be “Come with me if you want to live”.
I realize that I can’t spend all night ripping apart the storyline of Legion (entire books could be written doing just that) so I’ll give the cast their kudos for performing strongly with what they had. There’s barely a weak link among them (well, maybe Dennis Quaid’s one-note angry father – and I usually love the Quaid), and it’s perhaps even to the film’s detriment that they all play so strongly…it simply adds to the overwhelming confusion that watching Legion blankets your mind with when a quality cast plays something so utterly ridiculous and devoid of thought or merit with such consummate seriousness. Did none of them read the script and think “Hey, you know what? This makes no fucking sense whatsoever!”? Maybe they were just shown a PowerPoint presentation of cool visuals and concepts and signed the dotted line before this afterbirth of a screenplay fell into their laps.
Most of Legion is actually pretty well directed as far as the visuals are concerned, though a lot of the later action scenes are ridiculously unwieldy with giant spinning metal wings taking to the fore and wire-fu angels clumsily leaping from surface to surface. The less demanding may find some exhilaration in the mano-a-mano battling, but most will have had more than enough of Legion’s idiotic uselessness by this point.
If this review feels like a stream-of-consciousness reaction to Legion, the truth is it partly is. I simply don’t have the will to, nor feel like the film deserves that I, take multiple attempts at putting quite everything I’d like to say together (unlike our beloved Foy, whose hard-thought review you can read here). In this case I’ll treat Legion with the same contempt it treated me and offer something that only verges on the coherent.
To add a pun to the proceedings, I’ll sum up my thoughts on this film in one sentence: For the love of God; just don’t do it.
Sitting through Legion is an absolutely hellish experience.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s release of Legion is extremely well presented. The picture is gorgeous with some stunning external desert shots and a nicely punchy soundtrack that makes the film sound a lot more exciting than it really is…definitely one to show off your system with. In terms of special features it’s also packaged with a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes, one of the most entertaining being a deconstruction of the demonic (sorry, I did it again – I mean angelic) old lady monster scene from the early stages of the film. Some picture-in-picture content is also a nice bonus and something I personally dig when it comes to Blu-ray extras. Some MovieIQ BD-Live content rounds it off.
None of it will make you appreciate the film any more, as nobody really appears to have a clue that what they’re creating makes no damn sense in the end, but I’m not going to unfairly knock what are some fairly decent extra offerings just because you’ll want to scream at the screen after seeing the film itself.
1 out of 5
3 out of 5
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