All Hallows Eve might be over, but the Halloween season is still going strong. People’s taste for scary thrillers and horror films has resurrected a forgotten action horror from the film wastelands of the early 2010s. Despite being a relatively forgotten horror, Legion (2010), starring Paul Bethany, recently charted on the Netflix top 10, surprising when you consider how it fell by the wayside and is rarely mentioned or discussed. The film was a box-office success despite critics hating it. Thankfully, the fun but shallow apocalyptic tale of angels versus humans has aged moderately well.
Legion is an action horror film directed by Scott Stewart and co-written by Stewart and Peter Schink. The film stars Paul Bettany as the angel Michael, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palicki, Kate Walsh, Dennis Quaid and Kevin Durand as the angel Gabriel.
The plot sees Michael descend from Heaven to protect humans from the onslaught of Gabriel and legions of angels. God has lost faith in humanity and sends his angels, led by Gabriel, to destroy them. The angel assassins’ main target is an unborn baby carried by Charlie, a waitress at a diner near the Mojave Desert. The child will become mankind’s saviour. Michael was supposed to kill the child but disobeyed God and rebelled, being cast down from Heaven. Michael rallies a motley crew of humans from the diner and helps the humans while protecting Charlie and her child.
When released, the film was derided by critics and had a Rotten Tomatoes score of 20%. One reviewer, Brian Eggert from Deep Focus Review, wrote,
‘Apparently, not even the forces of Heaven can stop a bunch of losers with a trunk full of guns. The action is choppily edited and hard to follow. In between waves of bad guys, the characters spill their hearts out, at the end of which you’ll wish the Apocalypse would just hurry up and get over with already.
None of the characters are believable or more than just a one-dimensional device to propel the plot. Then again, the plot needs to make more sense, and the theological foundation is so poorly described that even devout churchgoers will be scratching their heads.’
There were many such sentiments from audiences and reviews back in 2010, but not everyone hated the film. Those who enjoyed it looked past the cheap plot and one-dimensional characters and saw the fun that could be had from a freakish action horror film. IMDb user g-bodylis one of them, saying,
‘Legion is actually a pretty good movie. I had low expectations when I got this film on DVD. The trailers also looked somewhat lame. I am a big fan of Paul Bettany. My favourite scene from this movie is the grandma scene. I thought that was hilarious. Overall, this is a great movie.’
Another reviewer, bowmanblue, seems to sum up why many enjoy Legion when he writes,
‘Sometimes you don’t want DeNiro’s excellent acting ability or Christopher Nolan’s tales of head-scratching, mind-bending concepts. You’ll even forfeit decent dialogue and little character development for simple shooting monsters with big guns. And this is what you get right here.’
Paul Bettany did a great job as Michael; many viewers cite his performance as their favourite. Bettany didn’t receive much praise for this role, but as a gun-wielding archangel, he did an excellent job despite the film’s artistic limitations. The dialogue was questionable, and the story was shallow, but Bettany still performed well. Thankfully, he got more recognition when he starred in the Avengers films as Vision.
Legion has its haters, but it’s gaining more fans, as seen by charting on Netflix’s top 10 films. It’s an outlandish biblical horror with freaky visuals and fun action scenes. You can turn your thoughts off and let the absurd plot entertain you. Sometimes, that’s all you need from a film.