Legion: It probably could have been better.
Here’s where self-restraint kicks in. Because it’d be easy to tear Legion apart for its near-complete lack of logic, its long stretches of non-action, its dull and poorly acted monologues and its half-assed religiousity. And to be completely honest, it’d be fun, too — trashing a movie gives a weird, almost perverse joy.
But this time, I’m going to take a different tack. Just take the movie’s badness as a given, and roll with me here, because there are at least a few interesting things about it. Also, ::SPOILERS:: are ahead, so don’t go on unless you don’t particularly care. And, as I’ve mentioned, you really shouldn’t. Because the plot isn’t exactly the point here, although I’m still not sure what is.
Starting with the far shorter list of things I enjoyed in Legion:
- Early in the film, a cop delivers a brief monologue about how the city needs a fresh start, miming shooting the scum that he sees on the side of the road. It’s actually a fairly effective nod to Taxi Driver, establishing that the lunatic fringe has become the group charged with protecting the rest of us.
- The premise is actually a promising one. If you can ignore the fact that an all-powerful God has chosen a ridiculously ineffective way to exterminate mankind (compared to just, say, willing us out of existence), the idea of mankind losing its favoured status is rich with possiblities.
- The first scene with an evil “angel” is good, cheesy fun, even if it leans heavily on Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead aesthetic.
That’s pretty much it for outright positives, and even that’s being generous. But I’m going to elabourate on the second bullet a bit, because I really wish that the movie had been more willing to follow through on its premise. You have an angel in open defiance of God, helping with the birth of a child that God doesn’t want to be born. It seems obvious that the baby must be the antichrist, and the angel is well on his way to joining Lucifer in Hell, right?
Well, that’s not what the directors want, so they shoehorn in an awkward sequence where the angel is forgiven (although the apocalypse doesn’t seem to be cancelled), making for the most wishy-washy omnipotent God ever put to film. But just imagine if they’d rolled with it. In this movie, the antichrist is born. In the sequel, you could have humanity siding with the forces of Hell to stave off a vengeful God. You could have the most complex, sympathetic portrait of Lucifer ever put to film, and one that wouldn’t conflict with Biblical canon any more than a God giving up on humanity would. And you would have something that’s never really been seen in an action movie before.
Or, you can make a dull, unimaginative horror-ish movie that alternates between painful monologues, anti-abortion propagandizing and senseless deaths of characters that you don’t care about in the slightest. I guess that’s an option, too.