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Legion

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Legion
Some movies are aware that they're terrible, some so awful that they become bizarrely enjoyable, and the odd few are so bad that they're beyond saving. Legion, the religious-themed apocalyptic action-horror flick that's in UK cinemas this weekend, falls into the third category. The performances are woeful, the script a derivative patchwork and the editing and pacing completely misjudged, making Legion one of the most dimwitted wastes of time to hit the big screen this year. What a pity for its star, the usually fantastic Paul Bettany, who comes a cropper in his first leading Hollywood role. The esteemed Brit is the unlikeliest action hero casting since Michael Keaton strapped on Batman's cape, yet sadly for him there's no madcap genius like Tim Burton behind the lens to make it work.

Director Scott Stewart's background as a visual effects whizz points towards Legion being an exercise in style over substance, and the end product is just that. It cribs shamelessly from a variety of sources - Assault on Precinct 13 meets The Bible! - and as a result is horribly predictable and bereft of a unique identity of its own. The story finds archangel Michael (Bettany) fleeing heaven to help protect Earth from an angry God. The Almighty has run out of patience with the world he created and has decided that a 'reboot' of humanity is in order. Angels are sent to possess humans and track down a pregnant waitress, Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), whose child is thought to be the saviour of mankind.

Most of Legion takes place in a rundown Paradise Falls restaurant, where a group of stereotypes disparate survivors join with Michael to battle the evil angels... with really big guns and stuff! There's the aforementioned Messiah-carrying waitress, diner owner Bob (Quaid) and his son Jeep (Black), one-armed chef Percy (Charles S. Dutton), a mysterious stranger (Gibson) and an affluent couple and their daughter Audrey. When an old lady enters the diner, orders a raw steak and begins acting a bit crazy (she tells unmarried Charlie that her baby will burn), things begin to go awry. Before long she's possessed, biting people and scrambling up the walls. After a scuffle, she's taken out by gunshot. It's in the moments after this that you quickly realise just how bad Legion is, as Dennis Quaid earnestly observes that he "can't believe Gladys was still standin' after Percy hit her with that f**kin' frying pan".

It's that level of committed seriousness that makes Legion all the more risible. Without a hint of humour or irony in its awful script it's a complete bore, and what little momentum there is is punctuated with long spells of inactivity and character 'moments' which amount to yawn-inducing exposition about their past. The premise leaves room to explore redemption and the wrath of God, but it's completely squandered. In the end, you're left wondering why the Almighty has so much trouble disposing of a small group hiding out in a diner and why Paul Bettany signed up for such a pointless venture in the first place.


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