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die hard is a xmas movie | by maryann johanson

Legion (review)

Oh God

Forget all that nonsense about fending off evil spirits with Bibles and holy water and garlic or whatever. Automatic weapons is what you need. Guns and bullets: this shit is real, man. Oh, and if you can arrange for a muthafuckin’ badass renegade angel like a ripped and tattooed Paul Bettany to be on your side, all the better.

I like to think about rebel cherubs up in Heaven totally grooving on Quentin Tarantino movies and maybe Taxi Driver and shit, and that’s how they learned how to use guns and be all street and stuff. Cuz I don’t want to think about a Heaven in which you can’t even walk down to the corner for a soda without getting iced. That would seriously suck as an afterlife. Maybe that’s why Paul Bettany’s Michael blew that joint, and not, as he explains, because God asked him to do something really Nasty and Not Cool. Though that would be enough to justify the self-exile.
I am dubious about the theological underpinnings of Legion. And I don’t even believe in this crap. I generally like my fantasy to hang together in some sort of semblance of sense, however.

Mostly, what Legion makes me think is: When did Paul Bettany (Inkheart, The Secret Life of Bees) get so hot? Now, I’m not so self-deluded as to think that Bettany was not hot before and suddenly did get hot — I understand that something just clicked over for the first time in my lady brain that made me go, Damn. I mention this because even with the small thrill of being able to look at Paul Bettany in this movie and think wonderfully wicked things about him — especially considering that he’s supposed to be an angel and all — this was still not enough for Legion not to bore the hell out of me.

See: Drooling over the lead actor was actually relevant to mention in my review.

It’s Terminator, basically, with Bettany’s angel Michael from Heaven instead of the future and out to protect pregnant Charlie (Adrianne Palicki: Women in Trouble) from the just-arrived armageddon, because her baby is the new Jesus who will redeem humanity, or something. (In case you didn’t understand that, the movie opens in the early hours of a December 23rd, and Charlie’s baby is born in the early hours of December 25th. It’s totally sacred and shit. With explosions.) It doesn’t really make much sense, and mixes up Old Testament and New — God is smiting us humans because he’s bored with us, but he’s using zombies this time instead of flood; and also: Jesus II! But at least Michael isn’t the baby’s father like Kyle Reese was that other savior John Connor’s dad. On the other hand, we never really understand why Charlie’s baby is gonna save the world, or even if she got knocked up by midichlorians or what. (Director Scott Stewart wrote the script with Peter Schink; both of them are making their feature debuts. I suspect neither of them paid much attention in Sunday school. Which you absolutely have to do even if you want to make fun of the fairy stories. Not that I think that’s what they’re trying to do here. I think they thought, Badass angels! and nothing more.)

Anyway, Charlie works in the middle of the Mojave Desert in an old diner, and this is where the shit goes down. It’s your basic zombie apocalypse, hoards of no-longer-human people attacking — they’re possessed by bad angels, or, I guess, they’re good angels since they’re doing what God told them to do, and they want the baby, see — and Michael mowing them down with some seriously cool weapons he stole from some bad guys in Los Angeles (or else he had been stockpiling his own cache in anticipation of this day — that’s another thing we never really quite get an explanation on). That’s pretty much it. I mean, sure, there’s the standard cast of zombie fodder to be chewed through before– well, far be it from me to spoil the ending. The five people in the global audience for this movie who haven’t seen the 184,392 other films just like this will may indeed be surprised at how it finishes.

I will say this: Bettany does make the ludicrous and preposterous believable, at least for a moment, while he’s explaining what his deal as God’s loyal opposition is. And not just cuz he looks, ahem, pretty heavenly without his shirt on. Though that doesn’t hurt.


MPAA: rated R for strong bloody violence, and language

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine

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