Reviewed by Justin Bateman
Stars Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Kyle Williams, Adrianne Palicki, Charles S. Dutton, Kevin Durand, Jon Tenney, Willa Holland, Kate Walsh, Dennis Quaid, Jeanette Miller
Written by Peter Schink & Scott Stewart
Certification UK 15 | US R
Runtime 104 minutes
Directed by Scott Stewart
"I don't even believe in God," says Dennis Quaid's character Bob early on in Legion. "That's okay," replies Michael, an angel played by Paul Bettany. "He doesn't believe in you either." And so the tone is set for your regular apocalypse shoot 'em up horror thriller.
Charlie (Palicki) works as a waitress at Paradise Falls, a diner in the middle of nowhere. Well, Arizona, but it's much the same thing. Charley is eight months pregnant, the father is "out of sight, out of mind" and only Jeep (Black), the mechanic son of diner owner Bob (Quaid) seems to care about what happens to her or indeed the baby. Meanwhile, Michael (Bettany) arrives on earth with a mission - to ensure the birth and survival of Charlie's unborn child. His difficulty is that in opposition to him is God, who has sent an army of angels to possess humans and exterminate mankind.
As you may have already guessed, this is not based on a true story. Furthermore, looking for plotholes and gaps in logic is a pointless if fairly amusing exercise. If God is omnipotent, why doesn't he possess Michael? Why is Charlie's child the chosen one and how will his survival save the human race? And how come Michael is an expert in martial arts and weaponry? Maybe Belinda Carlisle was right after all. Maybe heaven is a place on earth. Like a SWAT training academy.
However, if you put all of this aside, and take Legion for what it is, a B-movie, then it's pretty hard not to enjoy at least some of it. The script is patchy - some lines are truly cringeworthy, while others are genuinely amusing - but the performances largely stand up, led by the ever-excellent Bettany. He lends almost enough gravitas to proceedings to make his philosophical guff sound believable while the film's message - keep the faith - is rammed home with all the subtlety of a wrecking ball.
But although utterly preposterous, and with a strangely lacklustre middle act, on the whole this is entertaining stuff. So despite 'referencing' (i.e. stealing wholesale) ideas from a number of well-known films (Terminator 2, The Exorcist, most zombie films and It's A Wonderful Life is even showing on the diner TV at one point in case we missed the fact this is about angels), Legion is a decent knockabout quasi-religious thriller. Now there's a sentence I never thought I'd write.