I thought I liked bad horror movies, but it turns out not all bad horror movies are created equal. Some I just hate.
Back in 2010, while living in a small town in Japan, I saw the trailer for Legion. In a small, greasy spoon diner, a group of strangers find themselves in thrust into the apocalypse. An old woman turns into a demon and attacks them. A fallen angel declares that humanity’s only hope is a pregnant woman’s baby.
This seemed like an interesting premise. But the movie scored dismal reviews (19% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a pretty poor opening ($17 million, for an eventual $40 million domestic, $67 million worldwide). That’s a pity, I thought, and moved on. But I have a weird memory which can inexplicably remember obscure movie trailers from 9 years ago. So when Legion popped up on Netflix, I thought I’d watch it.
I am so glad I didn’t see this in theaters.
There are few bad movies which have actively pissed me off as much as Legion. I absolutely hated the anti-hero, fallen angel protagonist, who managed to be both holier-than-God self-righteous and a soulless, compassionless jerk. The antagonists were non-threatening cartoons with no brains. The ending was anti-climactic, and the themes were a mess. Legion spouted faith while ripping out its foundations. It sacrificed a basic understanding of good and evil in an attempt to be edgy. This movie did not know what it wanted to be and juggled action, fantasy, and horror set-pieces that might look cool, but had no tension, suspense, or emotion.
It wasn’t that nothing worked. There were characters I liked, there were ideas that could have been developed, and certain elements did genuinely hold my interest. However, the story as a whole was so muddled and soulless, it soured even the parts I liked.
(Warning: From this point on, I will be giving a SUPER LONG point-by-point summary of the movie and spoiling everything. If you feel you must watch the movie first, go ahead. Personally, I don’t recommend it.)
Life has hardened my expectations for high concept movies. Too often, a great premise is dismally executed. But, I wonder, is that the failure of the movie or is it because my own expectations are too high?
What do I want this movie to be?
Based off the diner setting established in the trailer, I assumed that this would be a closed-setting character drama dealing with individual psychologies and group dynamics, a la 12 Angry Men or the “Midnight” episode of Dr. Who. I wanted to know why the apocalypse is happening and why the baby is important. Since Legion chose to deal with religion, I expected it to say something about the nature of God, good and evil, faith, and/ or the human existence. All with a dash of action and horror.
High expectations to be sure, but it’s the concept itself that begs these questions. Is it hard to pull off? Yes. But that’s what draws me in. I want to see the movie pull off the impossible. I feel fairly sure it won’t, based off the reviews, but even if it fails, can I still appreciate--nay, enjoy--the attempt?
Legion begins with wide shots of the Mojave desert interspersed with small town artifacts: an orange sunset amid the cloud-strewn sky, an old playground, faded Christmas light, a tumbleweed caught in a barbed wire fence. Over these images, a woman narrates. When she was a girl, her mother used to tell her daughter of a loving God. But then her father abandoned them, and her mother spoke only of God’s coming vengeance. When the daughter asked why God changed his mind, the mother replied, “I don’t know. I guess He just got tired of all the bullshit.”
I like this opening. It actually does what I want it to do: it uses human stories to explain the nature of God. It gives a reason for the apocalypse. It hints at the setting and one of the characters in the story. So far so good.
The title drops, and the scene abruptly shifts to a noir backdrop of a dark and rainy Los Angeles. Our hero, a tattooed fallen angel, cuts off his wings, sews up the wounds in the grimy muck of an abandoned warehouse, grabs a bunch of guns from this warehouse, finds a beautifully ironed white trench coat, and blasts a conspicuous cross-shaped hole in the door, killing the warehouse’s lone security guard in the process.
This is not what I wanted.
A couple of police officers rightly decide to arrest this lunatic. Our hero mutters cryptically, “It’s already begun. There isn’t much time.” As if that’s some sort of explanation. But, hey, I recognize his voice. Our angel is played by Paul Bettany, who also plays Vision in the Avengers movies and appeared in Solo: A Star Wars Story, A Beautiful Mind, and The DaVinci Code, if I’m not mistaken.
One of the policemen get possessed, which makes his eyes go black and his teeth turn pointy. Possessed policeman tells the angel, whose name is Michael, that Michael isn’t following his orders. “I’m following my own orders,” says Michael, and a shoot out ensues, which leaves both policemen dead. But since the movie established that one of them was a bigot, I guess it’s all right? Without so much as blinking an eye, Michael steal the car and takes off.
I’m already tuning this movie out.
It’s clear the movie wants Michael to be an anti-hero, and not the sort I like. My favorite kind of anti-hero is a deliberate contrast, either in morals or method, to the hero protagonist. But Michael is the “have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too” kind of anti-hero, where the script tries to establish him as righteous, while also letting him kill and steal without pesky things like morals or remorse getting in the way.
Also: you can kill a demon by shooting it in the head? Well, that’s boring. Is that really your solution to the apocalypse? Guns? This I going to turn into a video game, I can already tell.
The next scene takes place at a trailer park near the diner where a pregnant woman with a vaguely Southern accent (Adrienne Palicki) and a guy with a strong Southern accent (Lucas Black) sit on a swing set outside a trailer park and talk about the woman’s baby. The woman is named Charlie and the man is named… Jeep?
Are you kidding me? Jeep?
What kind of a stupid name is that?
The park is very old-school with a metal jungle gym and painted animals on springs. It makes me all nostalgic. I like it.
Anyway, Charlie is giving up her baby. Jeep says she doesn’t have to and offers to take care of them, even though the child isn’t his. I feel like I should be paying more attention to this character drama, but the accents are really bugging me.
Why are they both Southern? This movie is set in California.
My brain scrambles to figure out how two non-related people from the south both ended up in this nowhere town in the Mojave Desert. More cynically, I conclude that the real reason for the accent is that it's cinematic shorthand for “simple, honest, good folks.” Logic, be damned.
You know, if you’re doing a grounded fantasy, you need to keep the grounded parts grounded. I have a limited store of suspension of disbelief. Don’t force me to use it on accents when there are angels and demons and an apocalypse yet to come.
Sorry. Moving on…
The next ten to fifteen minutes are devoted to introducing our ensemble cast of supporting characters. There’s Jeep’s father, the cantankerous and disillusioned owner of the greasy spoon diner (Dennis Quaid); the good-natured short order cook with dog tags and a missing hand (Charles S. Dutton); a bored rich couple on their way to Arizona when their car broke down (John Tenney and Kate Walsh); their surly, inappropriately-dressed teenage daughter (Willa Holland); and a lost man with a shady past in a custody battle for his son (Tyrese Gibson). I’m intrigued by the characters, even if their introduction does drag.
There is a nice scene between the diner owner, Dennis Quaid’s character, and Jeep. Dennis Quaid tells him to stop moping over Charlies, since she’ll never love him back. He goes on to say that he knew in his bones to buy this diner, but in the end, all it got him was stuck, miserable, and divorced. “I see you making the same damn mistake: believing in something that’s never going to happen.”
I like Dennis Quaid’s character. I empathize with this man who watched his dreams turned to dust and became cynical. I wonder if there’s a supernatural reason for him to buy this diner, if he was meant to bring all these characters into one place. He doesn’t yet see his purpose, but he will.
Suddenly, the phone goes out. The T.V. gets stuck on an emergency broadcast that won’t tell them the news. Our ensemble is cut off from the world.
The plot gets kicked into action when an old woman arrives at the diner. I know she’s a demon, because I saw it in the trailer, but I can also tell because she’s smiling way too hard and laying on the sweet, old lady act pretty thick. In a nice subtle touch, flies start to gather in the diner, buzzing around the woman’s raw steak.
Oops, did I say subtle? It’s gone now--dove right out the window.
The old woman abruptly starts to curse at the pregnant Charlie, threatening her baby and insulting everyone around her. While Charlie storms off, Arizona Man angrily confronts the old woman. The old woman rips a chunk off his neck and bounces on the ceiling, crawling on all fours like a cockroach. Chaos breaks out.
This isn’t scary. It’s actually pretty cartoonish. What exactly is this demon woman trying to accomplish? If her goal was to use her old lady guise to get close to the pregnant woman and kill her, she should have--you know--tried biting her neck instead of the man’s. Or maybe not given the disguise away by telling Charlie that her infant will burn. Anyway, the old lady gets shot and dies, which, again, diminishes the threat of these demons.
At first, it seems that Jeep shot her. He’s the one with the loaded shot gun. But as it turned out, Jeep froze. Lost Guy, sporting a concealed handgun, shot the demon instead. This leads to some nice tension. Jeep worries about being a coward and Short Order Cook becomes suspicious of the lost guy.
The diner patrons attempt to take Arizona guy with a bleeding neck wound to the hospital, only to be met with a pestilence. They go back to the diner. Finally, at the half hour mark, our fallen angel protagonist, Michael, joins the party.
This turns out to be a stupid moment. First, Dennis Quaid demands to see Michael’s teeth, because he’s figured out that sharp teeth are bad. (The old lady didn’t have sharp teeth in the beginning, but whatever.) Michael’s teeth are normal, which is a sign of goodness and therefore they can trust him. The diner patrons understandably want to know what’s going on. Rather than answering, Michael turns a gun at Dennis Quaid’s head. Lost Guy pulls out his gun. Short Order Cook tries to defuse the tension. Eventually, Michael looks backward and declares, “They’re here.”
Okay, what was the point of that?
Michael hands high powered rifles to all the men, a handgun to Charlie (“Don’t do anything brave,” he warns), and ignores the two other women altogether. Sexist much? By the way, it later turns out that Teenage Girl knows how to shoot. She doesn’t get a weapon, but Jeep, a proven coward, is given a rifle and the duty of protecting her.
I think I hate Michael.
He just saunters in, and everyone does what he says without a word of explanation about who he is or what’s going on. He threatens a man, and they appoint him the leader. He shows no expression on his face. I get the impression that when he looks at the other characters, he sees vessels for squeezing triggers and not much else.
But wait! you say. Maybe there isn’t time for an explanation or an introduction. The bad guys are coming. They need to defend the diner now!
It’s daylight when they meet Michael. It’s pitch-dark when the attack arrives.
He could have explained. He chose not to.
The first attacker comes in an ice cream truck. Michael, Dennis Quaid, Lost Guy, and Short Order Cook wait for him on the roof. It takes a full minute for the truck to drive down the road. The ice cream man is a tall, thin, spooky figure. His arms and legs and mouth extends to make him taller and thinner and spookier. Like a 4-legged spider. He charges.
Michael mows him down.
“Is that it?” Lost Guy says.
My thoughts exactly.
Why bother to get out and stretch at all? It did nothing. You know what might have been effective? Ramming that ice cream truck into the diner. Or maybe grabbing some guns for yourself before you attack. But the movie has already decided the bad guys are cartoons. They have no motivation or logical thought process and therefore are all bark and no bite.
More people arrive. Ordinary people creep out of their cars like zombies. One is a little girl in a party dress with a white balloon, and dear God, she’d better be the anti-Christ, the way the camera lingers on her. Lost Guy has a moment of weakness where he objects to murdering ordinary people, but Michael says not to worry about it and shoots them all without remorse.
The zombies break into the diner and succeed in dragging out the dying Arizona Man. They nearly get Charlie, but the angel teleports off the roof and machine guns them down. Arizona Man’s wife cries hysterically, as one does when one’s husband is dragged off by demons, and Michael comforts her by gripping her and coldly telling her, “He’s gone.” Then he proceeds to criticize Charlie for “being brave.”
Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.
I mean, Paul Bettany was more human when playing an android.
After this pointless charge on the diner, the demon-zombies withdraw so that Michael can finally deliver the exposition he should have given hours ago. Unfortunately, the exposition explains nothing and causes more confusion.
Michael begins with the obvious: that the apocalypse is happening. Then he says it’s actually angels possessing the humans. But angels are good, Short Order Cook points out, and Michael says, “The truth isn’t that simple.” He doesn’t bother to explain what the truth is. The gist of it is, God hates us and wants to wipe us out. Teenage Girl asks if Michael’s going to protect them. “Not you,” he says. Silly Teenage Girl, you actually thought you were important enough to protect. Michael is only here to protect the baby. “Either your child lives or mankind dies,” he tells Charlie.
Let’s dive deeper into the very obvious paradox presented here. God is all-powerful and all-knowing, according to Christian religion, and nothing in this movie has directly contradicted this notion. God created this baby to save all mankind. But then, right before it could be born, God changed his mind. He decided to hell with humans, kill them all. However, this unborn baby that God created can somehow defy God. Rather than snap his metaphorical fingers and kill the baby in a freak accident, God decides to send an army of incompetent “angels” who can possess humans, but don’t bother to possess humans in the military, to kill this unborn savior.
Oh, but don’t worry, because the possessed people are “weak-willed” and so it’s okay to shoot them. Nevermind that one of these demon-possessed people was a little girl. Of course, children are weak-willed! They’re children; they have no impulse control! Does that justify killing them?
Anyway, after Michael says that he’s not interested in saving anyone but the baby’s life, he gives an inspiring speech about how neither he nor the other angels (nor by implication God) care what they believe. He has no intention of telling them anything else. So either help out or die.
Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.
Once Michael leaves the room, the other characters have a few moments to themselves to deal with the stress of the day. Lost Guy and Short Order Cook talk about the concealed handgun, and Lost Guy admits he never actually used it before today. Dennis Quaid offers Arizona Woman a beer, and she takes a moment to quietly mourn her husband. I like these characters. They’re so much better now that Michael isn’t around.
Michael has decided to grace Jeep with his odious presence. This gives Michael an excuse to talk about God and faith. Not to fill in any plot holes, mind you, but to make the audience see that Michael, despite having zero regard for human life, is perfect and good and we should worship him. So when Jeep asks Michael why he disobeyed God, Michael, for once, gives a straight answer.
Michael: “He (God) lost faith. I didn’t.”
Jeep: “Well, how come you still have faith? It seems like everything I have faith in causes me nothing but trouble.”
Michael: “When God chose your kind as the object of his love, I was the first in all heaven to bow down before you. My love, my hope for mankind was no less than his. But I have watched you trample that gift. I’ve watched you kill each other over race and greed, waging war over dust and rubble and the words in old books. And yet, in the midst of all this darkness, I see some people who will not be bowed. I see some people who will not give up even when they know all hope is lost. Some people who realize that being lost is so close to being found. I see you, Jeep.”
Soft angelic music plays and Paul Bettany stares beatifically into the camera.
I pause the move to gag and wretch.
Where do I begin?
First, Michael says that God chose humans to be loved seemingly at random and then told the angels to worship mankind. Michael did worship them, and he loved them as much as God. He and God were basically equals in their love for mankind. But then humans turned out to be terrible. God gave up, but Michael didn’t because he’s better than God and loves humanity more than God.
Got all that?
You know, I’m starting to wonder if Michael is actually Lucifer in disguise. This actually sounds a lot like the Prince of Darkness’ backstory. Maybe the Charlie is carrying the anti-Christ. That would make the story more interesting.
Michael, however, is not done showing us what a slim grasp on Christian belief he has, because he then proceeds to point out how Jeep represents the ultimate goodness in mankind.
Michael: “I see you, Jeep. Fifteen years old, your mother leaves. Your father withdraws from the world. And you spend the next five years of your young life helping him find his way home. You love a woman who bears the child of another and you love her with no thought of yourself, even though you know she may never love you the way you love her. You, Jeep. You are the reason I still have faith.”
Gag, gag, gag.
Yeah, Michael is Lucifer and he’s using lies to manipulate Jeep into serving his cause by telling Jeep he is special and right and good--so much so that he gives an angel faith. Because his mother left, which is sad, and because he kept his cranky father company and because he suffers unrequited love for a pregnant woman.
I’m not saying Jeep isn’t nice, but he isn’t the gold standard of goodness. Certainly there’s no reason for him to be singled out for special attention. Moreover, when I look at the subtext of Michael’s speeches and actions on the whole, what he seems to be saying is not that all of humanity is in a fallen state and it is only through God’s love that they are redeemed, which, if I’m not mistaken, is the fundamental assumption of Christianity, but rather that some humans are innately good and special and should be saved. Everyone else can go to hell. Also, wars are bad, but murdering innocent people with guns in the name of destroying your enemies and achieving your purpose is perfectly fine.
I really hate Michael.
It’s at this point I shut off the movie.
I’m so tired.
Okay, maybe this movie just hit too many of my personal pet peeves. Maybe I have a fundamental disagreement with the movies’ message about the nature of God, humanity, and good and evil. Maybe it’s a stupid movie that is trying to look good while having nothing meaningful to say.
Whatever. I’ll just watch the film and see how it ends.
My expectations for this movie are in the toilet.
It’s not going to explain why the baby is important, because it doesn’t know why. The baby is a deus ex machina. It will be born and suck up the demons and the movie will be over. Charlie, Jeep, and the baby will act as Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, because why say something original when you can copy and paste famous scenes from The Bible? Any character study will get shoved aside for mindless video game violence. Michael isn’t going to change, because he’s a Mary Sue, so people will always listen to him even when he’s acting stupid and everything he ever says or does will be justified in the eyes of the plot. He’ll ride off into the sunset. That’s how I think this movie will end.
I turn Legion back on.
There’s a flashback scene where a winged Michael speaks to Gabriel shortly before he decides to fall to earth. Michael seems genuinely conflicted, and for the first time, I actually feel a twinge of sympathy for him. Gabriel asks, “How dare you presume to know his (God’s) heart?” and Michael replies, hand to chest, “Because he made this one.” And that’s a fair point. In this light, it seems as if Michael has sensed something wrong with God’s orders. Gabriel, however, follows orders blindly and sets loose “the dogs of heaven.”
Okay, maybe there’s something to this. Maybe I judged this movie too harshly.
Anyway, Arizona Woman hears her husband’s voice and sees him strapped to a cross upside down, his skin pulsing with CGI boils. She runs out to save him. But this is clearly a trap. Short Order Cook knows it and runs after her. He pulls her back, right as the husband’s boils explode into acid. The acid kills Short Order Cook, who, in my humble opinion, was actually the character most worthy of being called “good.”
This scene disturbs me.
It doesn’t scare me on a visceral level. It’s the implication behind it. You see, this act is evil. I can’t think of another way to describe it. They tortured a man, taunted his wife, and then used her love to kill someone. This wasn’t a military maneuver with the purpose of drawing out the angel or the pregnant girl. This was pure sadism.
And, according to the previous scene, God ordered it.
Which means God is evil.
It’s one thing to realize that you can’t help your children, wash your hands of them, and let them suffer the consequences of their actions. It’s one thing to decide that your children have grown so evil that they need to die so others can live. It’s another thing entirely to decide that you don’t love your children, so therefore its acceptable to gruesomely torture them, physically and psychologically, until they die. This isn’t even about religion, it’s just the normal definition of good and evil.
Yeah, there’s no saving this movie.
Arizona Woman, for the crime of trying to save the man she loved, is tied to a chair and sedated. Women, am I right? So crazy and emotional. Oh, but don’t feel sorry for her, because Arizona Woman snaps at her teenage daughter and acts like a total bitch. Therefore, it’s okay to tie her up and drug her against her will.
And it gets better. Charlie tells Jeep that she never wanted the baby and considered having an abortion, a speech I’m only half-listening to, because I’m still steaming over previous scenes. But God decided she couldn’t have an abortion and took away her free will. This made her hate the baby. Jeep tells her not to say things like that. She snaps back at him, asking why he has faith in her. He tells her to stop feeling sorry for herself and storms off.
So this movie hates women, and I hate Jeep.
I’m going to ignore the abortion issue. To me, that was thrown in as a way of making the character more “gritty.” Charlie is Mary if Mary never wanted her baby. Fine. I’m even going to ignore that God took away her choice. She had to have this baby because of plot.
What grates on my nerves is Jeep’s interaction with Charlie. He doesn’t really listen to her story, he doesn’t empathize with her, and he doesn’t answer her question about why he believes in her. He calls her selfish, and it’s framed as character development. He’s killed people with guns. He’s told off a woman. Little Jeep’s becoming a man.
Lost Guy and Teenage Girl sit on the roof, keeping watch, and they’re far more sympathetic. They were both bad kids, but Lost Guy admits that being bad isn’t so great when you have a kid of your own. Both want to start doing the right thing.
Right on cue, a father and his son arrive in a van. The father tries to fill up with gas. But a gang of demons (yeah, call them angels if you want, they’re demons) run over the dad and circle the kid. Because Lost Guy is a decent human being, he jumps off the roof and tries to save the kid. But the kid turns out to be a demon spawn and kills him.
The moral of the story: God hates it when you try to save children and will punish you if you try.
Teenage Girl jumps off the roof, possibly to avenge her friend, but her gun conveniently runs out of bullets before she can kill the demon spawn. She has no choice but to hide in the van, while the demons claw the window.
Where is our brave angelic hero? Michael is safe in the house and has no intention of going outside to save anyone. When Dennis Quaid tries to open the door, Michael points a gun at his head. A teenage girl is, after all, still technically a child, and trying to save a child, as established earlier, is morally reprehensible.
Charlie, however, says that if Michael doesn’t do something, she will. Blackmailed into doing the right thing, our angelic hero reluctantly goes outside, turns the gas pump into a fire hose, roasts the demon, and saves the girl. Was that really so hard?
Because no good deed goes unpunished and because Michael’s dickish behavior needs to be justified, the hell spawn demon kid manages to get inside and stab Charlie. This doesn’t kill her, but it does send her into labor. Teenage Girl wants to help deliver the baby, but Michael brushes her aside. He knows how to deliver a baby, thank you, and proves it by sitting Charlie in an upright position, getting behind her, and squeezing her hands. Um, okay…?
Ominous horns sound. A horde of demon zombies materialize outside the diner. Charlie gives birth in about thirty seconds, but it doesn’t destroy the demons. Huh, I guessed wrong. Charlie still doesn’t want the baby, so Teenage Girl shows him to her mother, Arizona Woman, who’s still tied up and just coming out of her catatonic stupor. Probably not the best idea.
Charlie wants to know if they’re safe now, but apparently they’re not. The child has to grow up first, and then he can lead the world out of darkness. It’s Charlie’s job to show him how. Charlie doesn’t want this job. She tries to give the baby to Michael. Michael says no. “This journey is yours.” Having stripped Charlie of all choice in her life, he pats her shoulder and leaves her to figure out how to raise a child in a post-apocalyptic world.
Is it over yet?
Michael reveals his original order was to slay the baby, but now Gabriel’s been given the task. Arizona Woman grabs the baby, reasoning that if they give the demons the baby, they’ll survive. Michael shoots her in the head. Jeep grabs the baby. Gabriel bursts in.
Gabriel slashes Dennis Quaid though the stomach with his wings and tosses him into the stove. Michael tells Jeep to take Charlie and escape, mumbling something about prophets and instructions that will never be explained. Charlie, Jeep, and Teenage Girl stumble out the back, and because they’re holding the infant, the demons can’t touch them or see them. So it’s a magic infant. It makes them invisible.
Whatever. Everything has been leading up to an angel battle, I guess, so let’s just get it over with.
First Michael and Gabriel have to spout vague, cliched dialogue about being brothers, so as to make the conflict seem personal (it’s not) and have meaning (it doesn’t). Michael begs Gabriel to reconsider. But this is the climax, Gabriel is the big boss, and there has to be a fight. That’s how movies work.
So they fight and they fight, and in the end, Michael climbs on Gabriel’s back and tries to choke him. Gabriel stabs himself through the gut with a spiky mace, which does not kill Gabriel, but does kill Michael. Okay… Michael falls to the floor, turns into light, and vanishes. At the same time, his tattoos magically cover Jeep.
I’m sorry, what?
What does that even mean? Did Jeep inherit Michael’s powers? Did he become Michael? This makes no sense. I suppose it’s just another way of saying Jeep is now the Chosen One, even though he doesn’t deserve it.
Anyway, it turns out Dennis Quaid isn’t quite dead yet. During the fight the stove has been leaking gas. Dennis Quaid holds up a lighter with the word “Hope” on it--something he’s had since the start of the film. “We’re out of business,” he says, and with a spark, the diner blows up, taking the legions of demons down with it.
And you know what? This is a good ending. Michael sacrificed himself to buy time, but it was Dennis Quaid who killed the angel. The lighter has symbolic significance, which ties up the themes as best it can. The three remaining humans are safe. It’s not going to make me like the film, but it’s an acceptable way to wrap it up.
What do you mean it’s not over?
Jeep asks if they have weapons, and the second he does, Gabriel zooms in and attacks the car. So I guess Michael’s and Dennis Quaid’s sacrifices were in vain. Good to know. Teenage Girl does her best to fight the angel single-handedly, while Jeep floors the car to over a hundred miles per hour.
He crashes the car. The car flips over several times.
Charlie and Jeep survive with nary an injury. It’s a good thing this baby is magic, because the chance of a normal infant being held in his mother’s arms in the front seat of a car crashing at a 100 mph surviving would be nil. But this baby doesn’t have a scratch. Teenage girl died, though. I guess that’s the point of the previous scene. To kill off any remaining characters you may have liked.
Charlie and Jeep climb up a huge pile of rocks. As soon as they do, Gabriel swoops down at them. Yeah, he didn’t die either. Teenage girl, like everyone else, died for nothing.
Gabriel knocks out Jeep and demands that Charlie gives up her baby. She refuses, which completes her character arc. See, she wants the baby now. Granted, everyone who doesn’t have a connection to the magic baby ends up dead, so this choice may have less to do with her newfound love for the baby and more to do with her realizing the kid is her only hope for staying alive. Sure enough, Jeep wakes up and grabs Gabriel before he can hurt Charlie. The two of them tumble off the cliff.
If life were fair, Jeep would die from the fall. Life isn’t fair, so he survives. So does Gabriel. Gabriel is about to stab Jeep, when the sky opens up and Michael glides down in a shower of light. So he’s alive now. And he’s got wings again. Great….
Michael runs Gabriel through with a sword. As Gabriel lies on the ground, Michael holds a sword to his neck. Gabriel yells to kill him. With a pained and noble look in his eye, Michael refuses.
Because after shooting Arizona Woman in the head, threatening to shoot Dennis Quaid in the head twice, mowing down possessed humans without remorse, and patently refusing to save anyone who is not connected with the magic baby--now we’re supposed to buy Michael as compassionate and merciful.
Gabriel says, “I would not have shown you mercy.”
Michael says, “That’s why you failed Him.”
Gabriel flies off.
Well, that was certainly worth suffering through two scenes of anti-climax.
And by the way, what was this whole “failed” thing? Was the apocalypse just some test for God’s angels? Was it His version of the Stanford Prison Experiment, where He gave his angels a little bit of authority and watched them turn into evil, power-hungry dictators? Did He just throw humanity under the bus to teach his angels the difference between moral obedience and blind obedience? What is going on with God?
Don’t ask Michel to explain. He won’t. Instead, Michael walks off into the sunrise, but not before giving Jeep the title of True Protector for the Magic Infant. When Jeep asks if they’ll ever see him again, Michael deadpans, “Have faith.”
“In what?” I scream at my T.V.
In a God who, at best, throws all humanity under the bus to teach angels a lesson, and, at worst, is outright evil? In a magical newborn who will save the world in a way you have never bothered to explain? In an angel who claims he loves humanity, but in reality will shoot people in the head or abandon them to demons at the drop of a hat?
You know, what? It doesn’t matter. That’s the fun message of this movie. Love is weakness, sacrifice is pointless, choice is an illusion, and we are all at the mercy of a hateful God. This movie is nihilism wrapped in Christian mythology.
And just to hammer in the point, the movie ends with the exact same voiceover as it began with, this time attached to the image of Charlie, the baby she didn’t want, and her God-appointed husband driving with a car full of guns to whatever military dictatorship/ cult still exists in this post-apocalyptic hellscape. “I guess he got tired of all the bullshit.” The final line sums up my feelings toward this film so well.
I hate this movie. I truly hate it.
It wasn’t even about not meeting my expectations. I just hated it. I can forgive a lot in a bad movie. I can forgive stupidity. I can forgive incompetence. I can forgive wasted potential. But I cannot forgive this… this hypocrisy.
If you wanted to say something controversial about Christianity, then say it. If you wanted to tell the audience that everything is meaningless, then hammer in the point. If you wanted to make a stupid movie with cool action set pieces and cheesy horror images, then go for it, but don’t pretend you have something profound to say about the nature of good and evil, when clearly you don’t have the foggiest idea of what good and evil are.
In conclusion, yes, I was offended by this movie, and it is only by thoroughly eviscerating it that I have achieved any kind of catharsis. Now I can forget this movie ever existed and go on with my life. Thanks for reading and don’t watch Legion.
Writer. Critic. Dreamer.