5-Word 365 #250 – Legion

Day 250. Woo and indeed hoo.

I remember being quite excited to see Legion when the first trailers started appearing back in 2009. The whole idea of an angel on the run from his own kind with a big knife and a bag full of automatic weapons was just too badass to ignore. And then the trailers made way for the reviews and comments from folks who had actually seen it; comments that were almost universally damning. While I wasn’t swayed entirely, at least my eagerness had been tempered. It has taken two years to finally get around to it, and here we are. I’m doing another live commentary today on the film described by Wikipedia as (deep breath) an apocalyptic, supernatural, biblical, action, fantasy, thriller.


Yep, it was that bad.

00:00 Ominous voice-over to get things started. It’s all very appropriately downbeat.

00:02 Trailer moment no.1, where Bettany’s halo becomes a metallic collar that falls from his neck when he cuts his wings off. Oh, I see what they did there.

00:03 Why is he bothering to stitch up his back? You’re an angel! Just slap some Sudocrem on there and get cracking. Bettany’s definitely going to be serious in this flick. He’s dyed his hair brown.

00:04 “Sometimes I just want to light a match and watch all these motherfuckers burn” – Travis Bickle, LAPD.

00:05 Trailer moment no. 2, Bettany walking out of a cross-shaped hole he blew in the wall. Just in case anyone needed another hint.

00:07 The diner in the middle of the desert is called Paradise Falls! If the owner is named Dante, I’m gonna turn this off and watch Buffy instead.

00:08 Lucas Black. That kid was so damn good in Friday Night Lights. So damn good in everything I’ve seen him in, actually, all the way back to American Gothic and X-Files. And Sling Blade, of course. Whatever happened to the other dude that was in that flick, the older guy? Billy Joe or Bobby Bob or something.

00:14 Director Scott Stewart likes to use a lot of low-down and Dutch angles. It’s all very deliberately weird. Almost self-consciously so.

00:18 Trailer moment no. 3. There’s a storm a’coming…

Who you gonna call?

00:19 Talking about what’s on TV: “What is that?” “One of them test things” “That don’t look like a test”. Cut to the TV screen, where the display says This Is Not A Test. Paradise Falls’ shared brain cell must be in the other room.

00:22 Heeeeeeeeeeeerrrreeeeee’s Granny! Trailer moment no. 4 is imminent…

00:26 And there it is. There’s something equally hilarious and unsettling about a sweet-looking old granny calling someone a fucking cunt. Kate Walsh must have been practising her best outraged look. Probably not much call for that in Grey’s Anatomy.

00:33 I’m wondering why the Supremely Tooled-up Being just hands a weapon to each person (with no spare magazines) and leaves the bags of guns, ammo and grenades in the boot of the car. Not very sound tactics.

00:37 Trailer moment no. 5. Doug Jones: the world’s creepiest ice cream man.

Anyone want some soft-scoop?

00:41 Lots of shooting. Not a lot of reloading.

00:44 “And yesterday I was fucking Santa Claus.” Well okay Bob, but what you get up to in the privacy of your own bedroom is really no concern of mine.

00:48 The music is swelling in the background. Percy is standing up and talking to Kyle on the roof, as a single tear rolls down his cheek. It must be time for Motivational Speechifying™.

00:50 Bob makes a point of saying that he’s happy the gas is still on. Now maybe I just watch too many movies, but I can’t help but feel like someone is going to heroically sacrifice themselves later in a gas explosion.

00:57 Ah, using the voice of a dead loved one to separate the idiot from the group. There’s a reason it’s a classic tactic. It worked yesterday in Vanishing on 7th Street as well. I should think of a snappier name for it though.

00:58 Damn, that was nasty.

01:02 This is a little off-topic, I know, but how long does it usually take for a sugar rush to hit the bloodstream? I just had a piece of chocolate cake to try to keep me awake and it’s not working. No, I don’t like coffee.

01:03 The mother of the (alleged) new messiah is talking about how she nearly had an abortion. Is this turning into some heavy-handed pro-life propaganda?

01:05 Aside from the brief Exploding Man interlude, the last twenty minutes have just been a series of paired off conversations among these survivors in the diner, where thay talk about all the bad shit they’ve doneor that has happened to them. This serves the twin purposes of padding out the running time and completely jamming the brakes on any sense of forward motion the flick had built up in the first 45 minutes.

He’s come a long way from Sharpe’s Waterloo.

01:11 Spider-pig, Spider-pig, does whatever a spider-pig does. No, hang on. Wrong movie.

01:18 “Find the prophets, learn to read the instructions.” I’m sorry Michael, but this is really not the time to get ANY MORE FUCKING CRYPTIC! Where are they supposed to go, Ikea?

01:23 He’s trying to chokehold the Archangel Gabriel. Yeah, I can see that one working. By the way, that mace of Gabriel’s must be an absolute bitch to maintain; full of spiky bits and hidden spiky bits and spinny bits. Whatever happened to the good old flaming swords?

01:25 I was right. (see 00:50)

01:31 Alright, those last few minutes really did not make a whole heap of sense. And compared to the rest of this flick that was quite an achievement.

01:32 And there’s the callback to the opening narration, for no apparent reason, and roll credits. We’re done.

I don’t think my life would have been found lacking had I not just sat through that. It wasn’t as offensively bad as some of the reviews had made out, but it was ill-conceived and shoddily assembled. What saving graces it did have were basically all thanks to the cast, particularly Paul Bettany, Lucas Black and Charles S. Dutton.


  1. Morgan R. Lewis · September 7, 2012

    Fun review, Ryan. Gotta say, I figured this for a stinker from the get go, so cheers to you for taking the plunge on it anyway.

    And incidentally, I don’t know about how long sugar rushes take, but I find that a modest amount of pepperoni works better as a stay-awake snack. Not a lot — you don’t want to send all your blood to your stomach to digest, that’d be counterproductive — but about the amount you’d find on two or three slices of pizza. The spiciness makes you alert right away, and by the time that wears off, the protein is hitting your bloodstream.

    • Ryan McNeely · September 7, 2012

      You, sir, are a damn genius.

      • Morgan R. Lewis · September 8, 2012

        Ha! Well, maybe, but on this I’m more inclined to “credit” my frequent insomnia.

  2. Parlor of Horror · September 7, 2012

    Great review, love the commentary (they should have you do the audio commentary track – would make the movie watchable). I especially like 01:02 and 01:18.

    • Ryan McNeely · September 8, 2012

      Thanks! You know, that’s not a bad idea…

  3. mistylayne · October 8, 2012

    Yeah, I was highly disappointed by this one too. Also I didn’t like coffee till this year when someone somehow magically made it delicious and now I’m kind of a coffee fiend.

    • Ryan McNeely · October 8, 2012

      What witchcraft is this? Magical coffee!

      • mistylayne · October 8, 2012

        I know, it’s crazy!! But vanilla and creamer (or just vanilla creamer) makes it taste like hot chocolate. Well, hot vanilla?…

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