Wing and a prayer

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

IF THE US re­ally is as uni­formly Chris­tian as editorials in lib­eral news­pa­pers ar­gue, then Le­gion would surely have been driven from ev­ery cin­ema in the Union. It’s one thing for Hol­ly­weird stars to pa­rade their athe­is­tic non-be­liefs on chat shows; it’s quite an­other to release a film in which the chief vil­lain is God him­self. Yet here it is.

Le­gion takes place on the eve of a com­ing Apoca­lypse. Ap­palled at some class of world­wide turpi­tude (the aw­ful de­cline in hor­ror films, per­haps?), the Big G has, once more, turned to the lo­custs and the whirl­winds. Hap­pily for hu­man­ity, the Ar­changel Michael, in the wiry form of Paul Bet­tany, is on hand to re­sist the nasty old three-per­soned de­ity.

As it hap­pens, the re­li­gious stuff is skimmed over in per­func­tory fash­ion. For most of its du­ra­tion, the pic­ture leans to­wards that blend of west­ern and hor­ror so beloved of John Car­pen­ter. Holed up in a desert diner, Michael and sev­eral, archetyp­i­cally dis­parate hu­mans, in­clud­ing Den­nis Quaid’s crinkly cynic, re­sist the on­slaught of pos­sessed cit­i­zens and var­i­ous su­per­nat­u­ral en­ti­ties.

This part of the film is ac­tu­ally rather good fun. Di­rec­tor Scott Ste­wart, for­merly a spe­cial ef­fects man, or­gan­ises the may­hem with some dis­ci­pline, and the grow­ing per­sonal ten­sions de­velop in im­pres­sively or­ganic fash­ion.

Sadly, it all turns ab­surdly silly when other ar­changels turn up. It goes without say­ing that Le­gion’s su­per­nat­u­ral char­ac­ters are no closer to their Bib­li­cal mod­els than Marvel Comics’ Thor is to the Norse god of thun­der. But I refuse to be­lieve that you can de­feat an ar­changel sim­ply by hit­ting him over the head with big­gest iron bar in your tool­box. Aren’t th­ese guys sup­posed to be God’s su­per­heroes?

Guess who’s com­ing for din­ner

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