DIR: Scott Stewart • WRI: Peter Schink, Scott Stewart• PRO: David Lancaster, Michel Litvak • DOP: John Lindley • ED: Steven Kemper • DES: Jeff Higinbotham • CAST: Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palickie

Open scene on a deserted, rubbish-strewn LA alleyway. A semi-naked man from another world drops from the sky with a sole objective – to reach and protect the naive mother-to-be of humanity’s saviour from those that seek to terminate her. Sound familiar? ‘Come with me if you want to live’ and all that. So begins a modern classic which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year; a yardstick which Legion falls roughly the distance from here to Heaven short of.

Legion begins on the eve of The Apocalypse, when rogue angel, Michael (Paul Bettany), falls from Heaven to protect Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) and her apparently very important unborn child from the angels of Heaven who have been ordered by God to exterminate humankind, but especially Charlie and her child. Really. Charlie works as a waitress in a roadside diner in the middle of absolutely nowhere, where the vast majority of the film takes place. The diner is populated by a medley of staff and strangers who become trapped once the building is surrounded by God’s minions and are forced into action by Michael against the endless hordes.

It will come as no surprise from the first two paragraphs that Legion is not a good film. While it can’t be faulted for modelling itself after a bona fide cinematic blockbuster in The Terminator, its failure can be attributed to one simple fact; robots fighting are cool, angels fighting aren’t. Watching Arnie soak up bullets and carry on regardless is cool; watching an angel twirling to deflect bullets isn’t. Also, setting a film during The Apocalypse and then having almost the entire story unfold in the desert is more than a little disappointing. Due to a convenient loss of power in the diner; the television, radio and telephone go dead and we are forced to take Michael’s word for it that The Apocalypse is happening at all. I’d like a second opinion.

One thing which Legion does get right (although not on purpose) is its absurdly archaic and chauvinistic portrayal of women; which fits snugly with its source material – The Old Testament. The three female characters of the film, Charlie and the mother and daughter pair (Kate Walsh and Willa Holland respectively), require repeated protection and are wholly incapable of defending themselves or even following sound advice. One can only hope that in the unfortunate event of a sequel we are given a female character more akin to the indomitable Sarah Connor.

When the voiceover which opens the film states that God decided to wipe out humankind because ‘He just got tired of all the bullshit’, one can only assume that God had just been forced to watch this nonsense.

Peter White
(See biog here)

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
Legion is released on 5 March 2010

Legion – Official Website