By all appearances, Legion looked like the perfect way to kick off the New Year. The trailers promised a film loaded with gun-toting angels, explosions, old ladies crawling across ceilings, and a plot featuring the chaotic consequences of God’s contempt for his creations. Sony Screen Gems was clearly looking to deliver an epic film, and they did deliver an epic film: an epic FAILURE.
Screen Gems is quickly becoming known as the studio responsible for a number of lackluster thrillers (Prom Night, When a Stranger Calls, Underworld, The Stepfather, The Covenant, Boogeyman, The Grudge, etc.) that are in many cases near-unwatchable. In the end, it all comes down to the fact that they’re greenlighting half-assed scripts unfit for production. It doesn’t matter if you have a huge budget, a visionary director, and good actors if the screenplay completely sucks. It’s infuriating to see so much potential thrown in the trash because the studio refuses to develop a script into something that would result in a film not only worth sitting through, but maybe even watching more than once. I guess that’s not in their business plan?
Legion has a great idea at its core (considering the mythology is a complete rip-off of The Terminator, it better be) that pits God vs. man in an apocalyptic battle that could potentially end the world as we know it. God has lost faith in his creations and has sent his angels down to possess the weak-minded humans and murder the rest (wouldn’t it be easier to just flood the Earth again?). These angels – who look and act human – wear battle armor and have super crazy awesome weapons (like clubs with blades), yet instead of actually using the weapons they simply possess their human victims, who then go on to become frightening creatures with sharp teeth. Yeah, that makes sense. Anyway, the angel Michael (Paul Bettany) hasn’t lost faith. In the opening, he falls to Earth (and cuts his wings off) to defend the humans against God’s army (led by rival angel Gabriel [Kevin Durand]). The big battle will take place at a little diner in the middle of nowhere, where the entire staff has lost their faith – except for Jeep Hanson (Lucas Black), who is the inspiration for Michael’s disobedient behavior. In order to save the world, they must fend off God’s army and protect pregnant waitress Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), whose child will grow up to save the world (because, again, that makes sense).
The main problem with the story is that there is NO mention of the Devil, or Hell for that matter. Also, the idea that God is exterminating man, yet somehow humans are able to defend themselves, makes no sense whatsoever. The concept of Angels possessing humans, and transforming into creatures, also makes no sense. How is this little f*cking kid mankind’s last hope? Never explained. I guess whoever wrote this expects us to have “faith” in their idiotic plot.
But whatever; I expected cheese. I expected a moronic story that I would scoff at on numerous occasions. There was no surprise there. As a film fanatic, what pisses me off is that they failed to even deliver a FUN and ENGAGING film. The screenplay is littered with obvious idiocracies, but that’s not necessarily the problem; the problem is that the screenplay is total sh*t. The movie opens with a quasi-interesting moment where Michael falls to Earth, cuts off his wings and stitches them together, but then we’re quickly taken to the diner where we’re forced to endure a hideously-written conversation between Charlie and Jeep; within 5 minutes I was already daydreaming and thinking about other sh*t going on in my life. I mean, the scene just goes on and on and on and on. The makers of the film might call this character development; I call it character mutilation. This scene, unfortunately, established a pattern for the rest of the movie: instead of seamlessly integrating character development into the action, everything routinely came to a stop so that each and every actor could have their own mother f*cking monologue. I wish I was kidding. After the anti-climactic finale, I leaned over to Chris (Eggertsen) and exclaimed, “Watch, the movie will end with a long, stupid-ass monologue.” And I was right. Not only does the flick end with a voice over monologue, it’s also a complete rip-off of The Terminator, right down to the (ridiculous) badass bandana wrapped around Charlie’s head.
So there you go. The flow of Legion is consistently interrupted by long-winded monologues, and as a consequence the action sequences are few and far between. I’m not exaggerating when I say you’ve already seen most of the movie between the clips, TV spots and trailers. There just isn’t any action beyond a few short standoffs and the scene with the old woman crawling along the ceiling.
Wait, did I mention the screenplay? Oh yeah, I did. I just can’t get over it. First off, I need to know…NEEEEEEDDDDD to know how Tyrese Gibson was able to act in this movie with a straight face. The way his character was written is straight-up racist, and anyone reading this script would had to have done a double or triple-take when taking in his dialogue. Honestly, how could Tyrese not have looked Scott Stewart straight in the eyes and said, “F*ck you man, there is no way in hell I’m reciting these lines!”? I kid you not; there was one moment during a (sigh) monologue by Tyrese’s character where the entire theater erupted into laughter. Said monologue opened with (honest to god) the following line: “When I was a shortie” (surely written in the script as “When I was a shawty”). That’s just a taste.
All of that out of the way, I will say here that I actually thought Legion was well-directed. The look and style of the film was incredibly polished – huge props to cinematographer John Lindley for his use of the color palette. I can only hope that Stewart’s upcoming Priest delivers on the screenplay front, because as a director he’s quite talented. It’s just a shame that with this film he was working with such a horrid script (for which he can only blame himself).
When all is said and done, Legion is all talk and no “do”, a prude film with some seriously wasted potential. It’s boring, slow-paced and takes itself way too goddamn seriously. Why they couldn’t have simply delivered a fun movie and blasted my eyes with an orgy of bloodied angels, gunfights and ginormous action sequences is beyond me. If God loses faith in mankind, take my word for it: it’ll be because of movies like this.