Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review: Legion (2010)

Director: Scott Charles Stewart
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Paul Bettany, Lucas Black

"All those little babies are gonna burn!"
-Evil Old Lady

This is a very religious thriller. And by that I mean, it is religious in the way that I am praying I never have to see it again, and it’s a thriller in the way that I was thrilled when it ended. People…this is Legion.

The movie kicks off with some narration from a woman. As the movie assumes we care about this disembodied voice we do not even know, the woman starts to talk about how her Mom used to tell her bedtime stories about the Apocalypse when she was a child, saying that “God just got tired of all the bullshit.” Well, if that’s true, then how come The Last Airbender was allowed to be released the same year as this movie? I think the rumors of God’s tiredness of the bullshit have been grossly exaggerated. And for that matter, her mother told her stories about the Apocalypse as a kid? That…doesn’t exactly seem like the ideal reading alongside The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood.

Thinking that it has appropriately set up for the actual film, even though it really just created more questions, the narration stops and we’re shown two cops cruising through the city. One of them is a fat guy who talks about how much he wants to just kill all the homeless people in the town. That’s your law force for you, folks, always looking out for the downtrodden and the weak! Truly these are the guys you want to entrust your safety with! The two cops run into this guy who blows up a building and try to apprehend him when he gets the jump on them. The other cop then has a seizure and turns into a bad special effect with pointy teeth and dilated eyes and says that someone is coming. I really hope he means someone who will make more convincing and scary effects.

About as scary as a Rankin-Bass Christmas cartoon.

Then we fade to the next scene, at a little diner in the desert, where a bunch of people are stuck there, including a family of middle class white people with a slutty daughter, a black guy with a gun and the staff, one of whom is played by Charles Dutton. You may remember him from such classics as Gothika and D-Tox! Not exactly a stunning resume there, but OK! The other cook is played by Dennis Quaid, who is one of those actors I’ve seen before but who never left a huge impression on me. Like a…really unimpressive thing…oh, screw it; he does a pretty good job and this joke is aborted.

We also have his son Jeep – what, are we going to have characters named Truck and Pit Stop next, too? On second thought I don’t want to give them ideas. He’s in love with a rebellious pregnant chick named Charlie, who is so rebellious she SMOKES EVEN THOUGH SHE’S PREGNANT! That’s smart! Apparently Jeep loves Charlie even though the baby she has isn’t his, and even though she really just kind of takes him for granted. Legion, everybody, the supernatural religious thriller with the most gripping family drama ever! You’ll also be on your seat as you witness the incredible tension of the white suburban family, who are worried that their daughter is dressing like a skank.

There's a nice view in this desert diner. Maybe tourist income will increase after all.

Outside, Dennis Quaid chastises his son for not fixing the car, and the conversation then somehow turns to Charlie, prompting Quaid to deliver a monologue about responsibility and one’s lot in life, and other inspirational stuff. And I’m going to warn you now that this is what takes up a lot of time in this film – inspirational monologues. They mostly have nothing to do with anything and are there to make the movie appear to have some kind of depth.

Everything cooks along until the generic old lady that’s in every modern horror movie ever comes into the diner. They’re all being nice to her until she freaks out and starts telling Charlie that her ‘fucking baby’ is going to burn. Goddamn Jesus freaks. Then the lovable old bat starts crawling on the ceiling, biting peoples’ necks and generally doing all the other things that born again Christians are known for.

…wait. Something’s wrong with that sentence.

Yes...truly THIS is the work of a loving God. Man this movie is stupid.

She bites the father of the suburban family and then gets shot by the black guy with the gun. They all pile into the car and try to take the father to the hospital, but are stopped by a swarm of angry insects. Apparently somebody forgot to hire an exterminator. I guess money’s pretty tight out in the desert when you only have a shitty diner to rake it in. They all come back to the diner and hole up there, but not before the Archangel Michael appears and starts talking in the hallowed language of Cryptic Speak to Raise Suspense. Meaning, we get no explanation for anything until AFTER we have a big, traumatic fight scene! Oh yeah, and the suburban white guy daddy gets the axe.

He doesn't look so bad...but 2 seconds later:

And yes, those are the best special effects this movie has for us. Kind of puts the movie’s suspense to a grinding halt, doesn’t it?

Then Michael gets to the Big Explanation, the exposition-festival that every one of these movies has where we get to know what’s going on! Basically God has lost faith in humanity and is now sending angels to kill them all. Why can’t he just snap his fingers and zip the whole planet out of existence? I hear vengeful tidal waves are in this year. Oh, and the unborn baby inside Charlie is apparently the savior of mankind. Because they did it in other movies, so I guess they had to do it in this one in order for it to fit into the Phoned In Apocalyptic Thrillers Club. New members accepted quarterly.

There’s one scene after that where the suburban white mommy is sitting at the bar and Dennis Quaid hands her a beer. She immediately starts getting depressed looking at the beer can because her husband was the beer drinker in the family and he’s dead now. Isn’t that just like…the most overdramatic slippery-slope of association ever? It’s like looking at a toilet seat and going, “That toilet seat was left up instead of down. My husband used to leave the toilet seat up! MY LIFE IS AN ENDLESS VOID OF MISERY AND TURMOIL!” I mean it’s just so silly!

Then Michael talks to Jeep and tells him, without mincing words, that Jeep is the reason he still has faith in humanity. Pre-etty tall order there, guy. I mean, that’s a lot to take in! Oh, and then we get Charles Dutton telling us another little personal inspirational anecdote. In this one, he says that his father used to tell him that if he didn’t wake up in the morning, he had to be proud of what he had done in his life. Even at 10 years old or whatever. Yeah. Real stand up father there, huh? What’s up with these peoples’ parents?! Did they just all get together in secret and decide to traumatize their children for life and never let them have any fun? You don’t want to think about what you’ve accomplished in your life when you’re a little kid probably dreaming about baseball and Transformers and stuff! What kind of parents are these bungholes?

There’s this other really overly long scene where some travelers get ambushed by the possessed people, which raises another plot hole: These angels are surprisingly easy to defeat. For an all powerful deity who wants all mankind exterminated, he sure didn’t send his best guys if a bunch of average Joes in a diner can beat them all. Oh, but there’s a kid with a knife and a poorly done scary voice, I guess we’re supposed to be SO SCARED WE CAN’T THINK STRAIGHT!

It's like a demonic Stewie Griffin...

Michael points a gun at Dennis Quaid and threatens to shoot him if he goes outside and helps his friends being attacked. I just hope he’s better at gun control than Vince Vega from Pulp Fiction after his divine intervention.

The baby is born, and then we get the arrival of Sloppily Written Plot Point, or Gabriel, the…co-angel of Michael who does want to follow what God said and do his work. Gabriel kills off Dennis Quaid, kills Michael and chases down Jeep, Charlie, the skanky daughter and the baby as they try to drive away. They have some drawn out and boring fight scenes, Michael is resurrected somehow, and he decides not to kill Gabriel because “that’s what the Lord really wants.” Huh? I thought he wanted to wipe out humanity. What changed? Oh well. We get our main characters riding happily into the sunset with the exact same narration from the beginning played all over again, because…this is a fucking cheap ass movie; I don’t know. Lovely. But at least everything ended OK and the world is nice and happy again!

Until the next time God loses at poker and decides he hates mankind again. Didn’t think about that, did you?

What’s that noise I hear? Oh, right, it’s my common sense and logic telling me this movie is crap. It’s not terrible and it’s not really as bad as some of the other shit I’ve reviewed, but it’s just boring. There are a million clichés, the story has a dozen plot holes and it’s just not an entertaining film. Legion is so average it hurts. This movie can suck it, and I’m done.