The Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) arrives on earth in a damp, dark
Meanwhile, the extremely pregnant Charlie (Adrianee Palicki) is working as a waitress at the
Then Michael arrives at the truck stop and starts passing out guns while making portentous statements in a raspy monotone. It seems that God is pissed off at humanity and wants to wipe the slate clean. In terms of Judeo-Christian mythology, this would be the vengeful Old Testament God, or the sort of Supreme Being Pat Robertson might imagine in his most vivid masturbation fantasies. Michael doesn’t agree with the big guy’s plan, so he’s come to earth to try and protect Charlie’s unborn child, a child that somehow holds the key to mankind’s survival.
So up to this point, the movie has been pretty ridiculous but entertaining. The little old lady scene, and later an assault by an ice cream man are the sort of deliriously goofy moments fans of “so bad it’s good” cinema live for. But after the initial siege, the movie grinds to a halt for its mid section. Most of this is to stop and flesh out characters just prior to killing them off. Meanwhile, the main protagonists and specifics of the plot are left sketchy and incomplete.
Another problem with Legion stems from the fact that the script was originally written with demons in mind rather than angels. Director Scott Stewart liked the idea of angels better, and frankly that could have been cool. The problem is, it seems that all Stewart’s rewrite consisted of was replacing the word “demon” with the word “angel” in the script. The “angelically possessed”, as Michael describes them, still look and act the way one would expect demons to behave. They manifest as mindless, animalistic creatures with pointy teeth and a blasphemous streak, at one point crucifying a character on an upside down cross.
The biggest issue left unresolved by the change from demons to angels is the nature of Charlie's baby. I imagine it was originally intended to be the second coming or something along those lines. I can see how Satan and the forces of Hell might want to stop such a child from being born. But with the changes to the script, it’s now God trying to stop the baby from being born. So is the baby still His? Did He get drunk and knock up Charlie while out on a bender, and now He doesn’t want to pay child support? If not, then what exactly is the nature of this infant who is supposed to be mankind’s salvation, and how is he or she supposed to bring that salvation about? I don’t know, and neither does anyone involved in this movie.
Being an agnostic, it’s not that I’m offended by the liberties the film takes with traditional religious beliefs. I’m just annoyed that it spends so much time on such a poorly conceived mythology. That, and I don’t understand why you would make a movie about angels if you’re not going to use the idea to its full potential. We get one brief scene where Michael has a flashback to a conversation with fellow archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) that shows how cool this could have been. While the two discuss the orders they’ve been given by God, a squadron of warrior-angels swoops and dives in the background, ready for an all-out aerial assault that never comes. Once the action moves to earth, Michael and Gabriel are apparently the only angels smart enough to realize simply maintaining their true form is more powerful and effective than possessing the fragile bodies of humans.
Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter whether it’s angels or demons. Although Legion does pick up again in its third act, that sagging middle just about kills it, especially since it gives you time to think about all the inconsistencies of mythology and plot. If the movie had maintained the level of energy and fun it started out with, it would have helped cover up those flaws. We’d still have a bad movie, but it would have been a fun bad movie. Instead we’re left with a few enjoyably goofy moments with a lot of ponderous exposition that serves no purpose in between. 2 out of 4