Starring: Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Durand, Charles S. Dutton
Director: Scott Stewart
Writer(s): Peter Schink, Scott Stewart
Cinematography: John Lindley
Original Score: John Frizzell
Running Time: 100 Mins.
Now here’s an idea, takethe Terminator films and instead of robots, add angels, that in principle is the plot of Legion, for better or for worse. In truth if you’re going to mimic a plot you may as well make it a good one, and the idea of one angel standing between God’s decision to decimate humanity, and our only savior lying in an unborn baby sounds like a promising one that could take any number of approaches, all-action, dramatic, philosophical. As it is, special effects maestro turned director Stewart manages to attempt tackling them all and fails on all counts with his cack-handed and leaden approach.
Paul Bettany is a man crying out for a good role, an iconic role, the one that makes him the star he deserves, Legion was clearly his attempt at kick-starting a franchise, heck given the premise and finale this is material ripe for a series especially if the budget went up. However budgetary constraints seem to be half the problem, I couldn’t escape the feeling that Stewart wanted to show the angelic masses swarming to wreak their havoc on earth. However he has to settle for one angel (with wings at least) making an appearance for any more than a matter of seconds, and makes do with other nasty’s consisting of spider-woman OAP’s and ice cream men with elongated legs and arms. The worst thing is that most of this goes unexplained, like why do the supposed weak-willed end up looking like vampires and what do some end up mutated while others explode from their body with pustules of acid.
Though in all fairness what is unexplained is less of a problem than what IS explained, plot wise this is a case of poorly executed action scene followed by a terrible scene designed to further character development, bad idea, for where mindless violence is hard to mess up, and Stewart succeeds with aplomb, supposed emotional scenes are a doozy to flunk, and flunk them he does. Its not a surprise that actors like Black and Gibson can’t spout this unwieldy emotional dialogue but when Bettany is reduced to seemingly a bit parter in his star-vehicle and ends up simply quoting his lines as if they were all Bible lessons the tedium really sets in.
Everything becomes a poor cut and paste from other films, noticeably so as the attempts to recreate are so poor, paced unevenly there is little that can save Legion, only upon the close where Gabriel (Durand) and Bettany face off does the ante get upped ever so slightly, clearly by this point it is too late and any forgiveness you may have felt obliged to offer early on is all but lost, hopefully the next Bettany/Stewart team up will be better, I mean they can’t mess up vampires as well as angels can they?
A fumbled concept, Legion proves a good effects man does not a good director make. Bettany doesn’t so much struggle as drift into the background leaving a bunch of amateurs to attempt to infuse the smattering of badly conceived action scenes with serious thesping, let’s face it, it was never going to happen with the likes of Black and Gibson. Even Dennis Quaid can’t save us!