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Old 01-25-2010, 02:37 PM
Scott Stewart's Legion

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:

Legion (2010)

According to this film, the first time God lost faith in humanity, he caused a flood to destroy them. Now, having lost faith in mankind again, he sends an army of angels to wipe them out. However, the more likely scenario is that he would probably send this film ahead of time to lull everyone to sleep before sending that army to do his bidding.

The story involves a seemingly random group of individuals who gather at a diner in the middle of nowhere. Some of them work there, like Bob Hanson (Dennis Quaid), his son, Jeep (Lucas Black), and a pregnant waitress, Charlie (Adrianne Palicki). Others are stuck there because their car broke down. Strange things begin to happen as the TV and radio station go dead. As the group tries to figure out what's going on, Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) arrives to fill them in on the situation. Apparently Charlie's baby is the last hope humanity has to survive the army of angels God has sent to destroy them.

Here's another one of those films that has an interesting premise, but just doesn't know what to do with it. This is evident in how most of the scenes turn out to have guns blazing and blurry fights occurring. Other scenes are merely the "sit and wait" kind of scenes where certain characters talk about what's going to happen. None of it makes for any kind of engaging material.

One of the problems is that it takes so long before the film finally gets around to telling us what's going on. At least half the film passes before we know why they are being attacked, which at least gives us a small reason to be engaged. However, to get that far, we already had to sit through more than one round of guns blazing.

Another problem arises in that we know practically nothing about the characters, nor do we ever learn very much. It tries to give us just the most basic of background information and hopes it will be enough to engage the audience, but this is actually the main reason why we never end up caring about what happens to them, so when those guns are blazing again, we still don't care.

The screenplay, by Peter Schink and Scott Stewart (who also directed), comes off as half-baked. As I mentioned earlier, they had an interesting premise, but they just didn't know how to execute it in a way that would make it interesting and worthwhile to the audience. The dialogue is mostly over-simplistic attempts at getting us involved with the story and characters and doesn't have any depth to it.

Paul Bettany is even more restrained in this performance than he was in his previous film, "Creation." Here, all he's given to do is mutter lines about how God has lost faith in mankind and how he hasn't. For the most part, he doesn't even seem to be trying very hard with the character, probably because he realized that it was a mere 2-D representation of one and that there wasn't much he would be able to do to fix it.

So far, 2010 is shaping up to be a terrible year in film, but we can take comfort in the fact that January is the month when studios dump those films that they think have little chance of doing well at the box office, giving it the nickname of "dump month." You might even say this particular studio had no faith in "Legion." 2/4 stars.
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