James Helsby

Little Red Envelope #3: Legion (2010)

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In my mailbox this week: Legion

Release Year: 2010
Staring: Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Dennis Quaid

There are some movies that you want to see in the theater. There are other movies that you want to see on DVD or blue ray. A really good movie, you want to see in both places. There are still more categories; I will wait till I see it on cable, and Tivo it, or even the ‘nah, I’ll pass’ category. Being a busy person, sometimes it can be difficult to fulfill the first category. It is usually just being lazy that stops me from filling the second. Legion arrived on Saturday square into the first category. It was a movie I Wanted to see in the theater, but didn’t get a chance. I knew it might not have been very good, but the Angels and God as the villain aspect really intrigued me.

Set on the edge of Christmas, Paul Bettany plays the part of the Angel Michael. He has been given an order, presumably by God, that he can not follow. As a result, he casts himself down from heaven, removes his own wings (and apparently, this action frees him from servitude) and sets out to protect an unborn child. The child, still in-utero to it’s mother, Charlie, a waitress in Paradise Falls (a dot on a map, and nothing more) finds herself questioning her life, and he choices. Ultimately, she has decided that she doesn’t want to keep the child, and will be giving it up for adoption.

This is my BOOM stick.

Additional cast members, Charles S Dutton (the lovable, former military, fry-cook), Lucas Black (the honorable, friend-to-the-girl-who-wont-have-him), Tyrese Gibson (the shorty trying to repent his ways, for his child’s sake), and Dennis Quaid (the gas station owner, get off his lawn) add their support, when push comes to shove, and the angels start to attack.

And attack they do.

I supposed this movie met my expectations. It was a little on the stupid side, and definitely focused on the few short action sequences. The problem with it, is that in between those sequences, are long and dry moments of pointless conversation from self-doubting characters who can do nothing but discuss their personal weaknesses, and little sprinkles of potentially interesting character design. But all for not.

This movie fell on its face. It has a killer (pun) premise; God hates you, and there is nothing you can do to stop God if he wants you dead. Well, that’s my interpretation of the premise, at least. The problem really comes down to their choice of acting, and characters. When you cast two former acting greats, Dennis Quaid and Charles S Dutton, and then put them into the supporting rolls behind newbies to the business, like Lucas Black and Tyrese Gibson what you get is a lopsided feel. Quaid does his job right, he plays a man who feels stuck in the world. He knows he made the wrong choices, and wants to make sure that his son doesn’t succumb to the same path.

Dutton, is unfortunately, perfectly type-cast. The pseudo-religious, self-sacrificing, former military, don’t-mess-with-him, fry cook. It seems like every movie he has been in, he is essentially the same character. Specifically, I am thinking of his portrayal of Dillon in Alien3. If you saw him in that movie, then you saw him in this one.
But they are only the supporting actors; half-way down the credit list. The two leading actors, Paul Bettany and Lucas Black, do not work together. I can’t fault Bettany, his presentation of Michael, the fallen angel with the weight of the world on his shoulders, was spot on perfect, in my opinion. They only this that falls apart is that he might be a little too serious. There is no love left in his heart. And because of this, the character seems very dry and one dimensional. I think this is more of a writing fault that an acting one.

But this leaves us with the worst character, and actor of the film. Jeep Hanson, played by Lucas Black. Black, you may remember, has been in such cinematic gems as Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, and Jarhead. If you take his part of Sean Boswell in Tokyo Drift, and move him to the next place in his trans-continental travels to Buttsville Nevada, then you know exactly who, why, and everything in-between about Jeep. Why does a guy, raised in Nevada, have some sort of weird, talk out of the side of your mouth, Alabama accent. Why, if you look his profile up on IMDB, is his high-school head shot his primary actor profile image. Why? because this dude can’t act to save himself from a drunk bee.

Derp. Definately, Definately Derp.And here is the most egregious error in the whole film. Kevin Durand, who for some strange reason I think is brilliant, ‘appears’ for the first time around the 60 minute mark. His face shows on screen for perhaps 10 seconds, before he disappears. We then have to wait another 20 minute (note: this is about 10 minutes before the end of the film!) Before he shows up on screen, as the Archangel Gabriel, who issues the true vengeance of god. Seriously? 10 minutes before the end of the film? That’s when we meet the main villain? Really? Oh! And angel wings are bulletproof? REALLY? So lots and lots of guns, might not be the best weapon to fight an angel? derp.

So, despite all this, despite falling on its face, despite the bad acting; the movie was pretty good. It was slow at points, but there were a few very memorable moments. The pace was good, and for a 90 minute movie, it felt like 2 hours. Sometimes this is a negative, but in this case it was a positive. If you watch Legion, which I do recommend, make sure to get up and pause the film during the dull moments. It will help keep the pace going, and keep you stocked up with beverages.

How much alcohol did it take: Two whiskey/cokes, two shots, and a jug of water.
Rating: 7/10. You know you are in for a decent movie when Kevin Durand shows up 10 minutes before the ending.

The Wife’s Retort: It wasn’t too bad, it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would have been. There are still a few jump out of your seat moments, but I made it through without regret.

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