Paradise falls: a hint as to the direction this film is going and an accurate pun on the setting of this angelic apocalypse movie. But Angela Burton giggles, what’s up with that? Where’s the house with all the colourful balloons?
Legion follows pregnant Charlie, who lives in a trailer and works as a waitress in a diner in Paradise Falls (location: the middle of nowhere) with diner owner Bob and his adult son, Jeep. Meanwhile – though they’re ignorant of it – someone falls from the sky (making a rather graceful landing, considering the drop). His shadow shows this is no mere man; it’s in fact an archangel who goes by the name of Michael. But before we get too awestruck, he lops off said wings with short, sharp and very neat strikes. The de-winged Michael is then released from God’s grasp when his halo – a sort of metaphysical collar – is removed (not that this is explained during the film; some background research was needed to establish what’s going on in this scene). After freeing himself, our fallen angel makes his way to an armoury, where he steals enough weapons to fill the boot of a police car and blows a cross-shaped hole in the building by way of an exit – yes, rather unnecessarily dramatic. This naturally attracts the attention of the police and two cops show up, one of whom suffers possession by an angel on the trail of rogue Michael (Possession, as it happens, looks a lot like an agent takeover in the Matrix) and is swiftly shot in the face. Then off Michael goes, stealing the police car to aid pregnant Charlie, perhaps programming his internal sat nav to “destination: pregnant lady”?
Before we go any further, here is a little factoid you may not know about angels: their wings are not made of feathers but some kind of sharp-edged, bulletproof material that looks like feathers. This actually leads to some of the more exciting scenes, when winged Gabriel comes down to Earth in place of Michael, to kill Charlie and her unborn baby. He faces off against Michael then chases Charlie as she flees in a terrifying he-can’t-die-he’s-an-angel (or a Terminator) chase.
The plot scrimps on explaining the who, the what, when, where and why and since it’s not based on a book, you can’t rush off to Amazon and do some homework. In addition to the gaps in logic, there are also a lot of purposely unanswered questions, leaving the plot wide open (as wide as a bottomless pit is bottomless) for a sequel. So there’s no point asking questions.
The film’s tone is all over the place and scenes that should have some kind of emotional impact fall flat and look silly. Michael has a heart-to-heart with Jeep (the compassionate, downtrodden guy and love interest), in which he explains that it was none other than Jeep himself who inspired the angel to turn his back on heaven and defend mankind. Instead of warming to this confession, as we’re undoubtedly meant to, the angel’s speech just seems a bit barmy. There are also further Terminator rip-offs, such as the moment when Michael informs Charlie that she’s pregnant with the child that will save humanity and that she must bring him up to be prepared (hurry up and name the kid John already).
Oh, and it’s Christmas, although it doesn’t exactly seem to be celebrated and only mentioned once – when it’s questionable as to whether or not it’s a strange sarcastic remark – and there’s a flimsy looking Christmas tree in the corner of the diner. Does that mean this child is meant to be Jesus and not John Connor? If so, why is God trying to kill him?
Despite what the trailer would have you believe, Legion is not a fun and silly (in a good way) “angels ending the world” movie. It takes itself far too seriously, leaving the film to squander its cool ideas in pursuit of a serious, epic vibe it never gets close to.
Rating on a scale of 5 fallen angels: 2
Release date: US: 21 Jan, UK: 5 March 2010
Directed by: Scott Stewart
Written by: Peter Schink, Scott Stewart
Cast: Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palicki, Charles S Dutton, Kevin Durand, Jon Tenney, Willa Holland, Kate Walsh, Dennis Quaid
Running time: 100 minutes