The Scoop: 2009 R, directed Scott Charles Stewart and starring Paul Bettany, Charles S. Dutton, and Kevin Durand
Tagline: When the last angel falls, the fight for mankind begins.
Summary Capsule: Group of humans get caught up in a battle between angels at a diner in the desert.
Eunice’s Rating: Eunice SMASH!
Eunice’s Review: In the middle of nowhere between Las Vegas and LA there’s a failing diner. The waitress at the diner is eight months pregnant, and the son of the diner’s owner, named Jeep (let that sink in), feels he needs to protect her. Also in the diner is the cook, a family who’s car broke down, and a guy looking to use the phone. Suddenly there’s no TV or radio, and the phone lines die. While they’re trying to figure out what’s going on a sweet old lady comes in, only it turns out she’s a not so sweet demon/zombie. It’s (sort of?) the start of Armageddon! Then all of a sudden Michael the Archangel shows up, sans wings, to start bossing people around.
Before I saw Legion I had no plans to review it. If you remember, a few years ago Legion had a lot of multimedia hype preceding it. I knew it wasn’t theater worthy, so I planned to rent it. Then the people around me who saw it used words like “stupid” “terrible” “sucked.” So I decided to just wait for it to come on TV. With my expectations, I felt, sufficiently lowered I hit play on the old DVR. I started and then stopped Legion four times before actually watching it. It’s a bad sign when a movie can’t grab the attention of someone as forgiving as me in fifteen minutes.
I haven’t finished a movie feeling this full of wanting to punch someone in the face since S. Darko. To be fair, this movie isn’t as objectively bad as that one, but I’ll warn you now this review is going to get a little ranty and be more of a list of the things that bugged me than have any flow to it.
I don’t mind cussing in a movie, as long as it fits. If it’s there just to be there, and it’s just way over the top too much it pulls me out of the movie. That’s lazy writing. Let me repeat that: LAZY WRITING. It doesn’t make the movie look tough it makes it stupid. Especially if the only thing that gives your movie an R rating is the cussing.
Because this is a cowardly movie. The movie’s a little violent, but seems afraid of itself. It keeps shying away from fully committing. Someone gets a chunk of throat ripped out but the camera pulls away before you see anything, someone has exploding boils but you only see not bloody goo flying. It’s like the movie keeps putting it’s hands over it’s eyes instead of going as far as it could go. So it’s not as scary, or action packed, or weighty, or edge of your seat as it could be. Come on, movie, grow a pair!
So if the writing is lazy and the movie is weak, how am I suppose to have any interest in what’s going on?
Another problem is the movie contradicts itself. Michael says he’s here to protect humans because there’s still a glimmer of light in the darkness, blah blah blah hope, blah blah blah kindness, yadda yadda love. He says it over and over and OVER. Which is fine, movie, I’m still with you. He doesn’t actually DO anything to back this up. Neither does the movie. He threatens people. Someone does something heroic and selfless and Michael pretty much goes ‘sucks to be them’ and does nothing and lets them die. The only time people die is when they’re doing the right thing, and if they’re irritating and horrible they live. Come on movie, if you’re going to be preachy about something anyway deliver on the goods! Also it keeps breaking it’s own rules on how things work, and I hate that! Goes back to that lazy writing.
The telling without showing doesn’t stop there. Main character Jeep, is supposed to feel the need to protect Pregnant Waitress, which he never actually does, and Michael tells us Jeep loves PW, but nothing ever happens that bears that out. Jeep just spends the whole movie standing around going “Durrrrr.”
You’ll notice I only have Paul Bettany, Charles S. Dutton, and Kevin Durand listed as starring, well that’s because they’re the only ones who earned their paychecks. This and Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift are the only two things I’ve seen Lucas Black in, and I think I’m going to remember his name just so I can avoid him. The extent of his acting is, like I said, going “Durrrrr” and spouting dialogue like he’s trying to talk around a mouth full of poo. Dennis Quaid, what happened? Where did it all go wrong, was it The Day After Tomorrow? I do feel that Tyrese Gibson is trying his best, but he’s a bad actor. I want to like Jon Tenney, but he’s in and out of the movie so fast I can’t count him. Everyone else is forgettable.
Charles S. Dutton has this scene where’s he’s talking about his father, and he nails it. I mean, he makes me believe it. One problem: the movie didn’t earn it. It’s so out of left field, that it serves to highlight how empty and shallow the movie is, and how weak everyone else’s acting is. Then later on Paul Bettany has a similar scene where Michael’s talking to Jeep. It’s moving, Bettany sells it from the way he speaks his lines, to body language, to the emotion in his eyes. It’s so powerful and out of place, it was like being hit between the eyes. Unfortunately it’s sandwiched between stupid. In terms of screen time and lines Kevin Durand has possibly the smallest name role as Gabriel, but he comes close to stealing the movie and it’s nearly painful to catch glimpses of what Legion could’ve accomplished.
What’s the worst about this, and I’m laying this one at the feet of the director, everyone is in a different movie. It’s so… it’s so… discordant. Like an orchestra where the percussion is playing different arraignments, the woodwinds are in different keys, and the strings aren’t tuned. As an example, that scene where Michael’s talking to Jeep? It is just so incredibly jarring, not only are Bettany and Lucas Black on completely different plains of acting level, they are also interpreting it differently, and I swear the sound is mixed funny so it really is like two different scenes mashed together. The result is like “I’m Michael and we’re having a serious discussion here, excepting that your name is ‘Jeep,’ and I’m being very deep and meaningful. Do you understand, Jeep?” “Well tarnation, Mr. Angel! *mumble mumble mouth full of poo mumble*.”
The problems continue on into the more technical aspects. You can’t see the action scenes because it’s both filmed too dark and spastic-ly edited. There were points where I was confused as to whether someone had died or not, or even if they were in the same room, because of how badly it’s handled. Gabriel’s wings are cool, if only I COULD SEE THEM STUPID ACTION EDITING!
The effects are bad. Look movie makers, if it can be done as a practical effect, please do it, if not then at least make your CGI decent or don’t bother at all.
One or two references is an homage, fitting other, better, movies together like puzzle pieces is crap. It’s The Prophecy! Now it’s Identity, no wait now it’s Demon Night, now it’s a zombie movie, now it’s it’s Dogma, and it’s ending like Terminator.
Follow through on story ideas. If someone’s baby is the chosen one, why? Is the father an angel, demon, Satan? Did they make a pact with an angel, demon, Satan, or God? Are they a descendent of Jesus? Was their father sent back from the future? I kinda hoped it would turn out that Michael was the father when he showed up outside the diner and there’s that weird scene between PW and him, but no dice. It’s also never explained what’s going on with Jeep, and did he turn into an angel or something at the end? Were all the people at the diner brought together for a reason? If they’re supposed to be the “strong ones” then why are they so weak? How come there’s only two angels in this thing? If the possessed people are like zombies, why are they so chatty? It all comes off very juvenile. Like “Dude, you’d know what’d be awesome? If this guy had these gnarly boils and he like exploded!” “Sick dude!” “But nah, they’re acid boils! Then at the end we’ll have this chick with a sack on her head and a bat!” “Why, man?” “Because it’ll be crazy!” It’s frustrating, movie, why have I put more thought into you than your makers?
Okay, I have it out of my system, I’m done. Ya hear that, movie?! Don’t call me, don’t show up at my house, we’re through!
- According to IMDB, “The tattoos on Michael (and later Jeep) are Enochian, a language supposedly of the angels as recorded by John Dee and his seer Edward Kelley in the late 16th century, which they claimed was revealed to them by angels.”
- Is that really Kevin Durand’s voice? I’m actually really impressed by his delivery. He needs more smart eloquent roles.
- Legion actually has a small, but, at least from what I’ve seen, creative fandom. Good on you people who also put in more effort and thought into what this could’ve been than the people behind it, and help it to qualify as a cult flick.
Charlie: One night I finally got the courage to ask my mother why God had changed, why He was so mad at His children. “I don’t know,” she said, tucking the covers around me, “I guess He just got tired of all the ********.”
Howard: Audrey? Honey? Your mother was wondering if you got dressed this morning with the specific intention of showing your ass off to the entire world.
Charlie: What did you just say?
Gladys: I said your ******* baby’s gonna burn.
Bob: You know this is crazy, right? I mean, I don’t even believe in God.
Michael: Well that’s just fine, Bob. He doesn’t believe in you either.
Gabriel: This is not your test, Michael. How dare you presume to know His heart?
Michael: Because He made this one, and it tells me He shouldn’t lose faith now.
Michael: When God chose your kind as the object of His love, I was the first in all of Heaven to bow down before you.
Michael: I knew He’d send you, Gabriel. You were always so eager to please Him.
Gabriel: Unlike you, the rebellious son.
Gabriel: This can’t be. You’ve disobeyed Him.
Michael: You gave Him what he asked for, I gave Him what He needed.
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