In the bible, Michael is the archangel of God, the loyal general of God’s armies who is the soldier to battle Satan and help hurl Satan and his followers in to the underworld. Michael is also the archangel to have been prophesized to defeat the Anti-Christ. Often depicted with a flaming sword, Michael is swift and loyal to his holy creator. As such he is one of my favorite characters of the bible. Michael in “Legion” is a gun toting, one-liner chucking, tattoo donning mother who speaks in a grumble and slur that feels as if star Paul Bettany is attempting to restrain his English accent, and is trying to channel a Southern drawl. Here we see Michael as one part The Punisher, one part Mr. Blonde, and two parts T-800, who stumbles around stomping and commanding his human drones to fight back against the hordes of angels, and whispering poetic diatribes about his allegiance to God.
Hell, Michael is so bad ass, when he falls down to Earth without wings, he cures his wounds with some peroxide and lives to fight another day. And also kicks the crap out of two police men on patrol. Heaven churns out some mean bulldogs, don’t they? “Legion” is obviously a very goofy movie, and one that even those who take with a grain of salt, will have a hard time enjoying and finding some entertainment value from. While typically I love films about random strangers in a deserted locale going up against impossible forces from the darkness, “Legion” is never sure what it wants to be. Sometimes it’s a science fiction film, sometimes a melodramatic thriller steeped in religion, and sometimes just a horror film with arachnid demons, and simpleton angels who possess humans for reasons never quite explained. And on many occasions, it’s a blatant rip off of “The Terminator.”
A cold warrior is dropped down to Earth given the task of saving a woman whose unborn child could change the fate of humanity, all the while evading warriors sent to kill it and the mother. Ooh, that’s good plagiarism! There’s also no actual reason why Michael is suddenly motivated to save the human race beyond trite observations about their emotions and feelings. If we stuck true to the molds of the characters, Michael and Gabriel would be standing side by side leading the armies of heaven to destroy the world. But there’s never any convincing motivation for Michael’s sudden change of mind in the face of the war beyond a baby. Most of “Legion” revolves around the entire seasoned cast delivering some truly hammy performances, while dodging the obstacles that loom outside in the realm of the psychological and the horrific.
The confrontations on both fronts that Michael warns with great dread are fleeting and dull. The distraction from the entire ensemble is Tyreese who plays Tyreese yet again, choosing to man up and spout off one-liners on every occasion, all the while Dennis Quaid and Charles S. Dutton are absolutely pissed away in roles that could have been played by literally anyone. The characters are all interchangeable and forgettable, with no real complex back stories or appealing traits. They’re all just basic archetypes for a film of this ilk who are doomed to either die or live long enough to see the end of the movie. Writers Schink and Stewart sure to try their hardest to evoke some sense of empathy from the audience, struggling to turn Adrianne Palicki’s character in to a compelling protagonist, but can barely squeeze out a tolerable performance from her.
The remainder of “Legion” is comprised of awkwardly choreographed Angel fu, endless exposition in to what results in a thud of a climax, a final half very reminiscent of “T2,” and a lingering regret that I had to see the same movie twice. The first time being “The Prophecy,” another movie about warring angels that bored me to tears. A bold faced rip off of the “Terminator” films, director Scott Stewart exchanges cyborgs for demonic angels, and revolves his entire story around bad actors hogging the screen, great actors being misused, Paul Bettany trying to convince us he can handle an action film, and when all is said and done, I’m still rather insistent that angels are cooler in their concept than they are when used in pop culture. I look forward to “Legion 2: Judgment Day.”