Here’s Legion in a nutshell: Just before Christmas 2010, God gets fed up with humanity and decides to wipe everyone off the face of the Earth. But following through on all that Revelations crap would apparently be too much work, and just sending His thousands of immensely powerful warrior angels down to do the killing would be way too easy. So he empowers those angels to climb into fragile, easily slaughtered human shells and run murderously amuck. The archangel Michael (Paul Bettany), not keen on God’s new “wear a human, kill a human” policy, heads to Earth to protect grungy, bitter, eight-months-pregnant waitress Adrianne Palicki, whose unborn baby is somehow the key to restoring God’s faith in mankind. And yet when he delivers this news to her and the ragtag band of disposable customers and employees at her desert diner, not one of them thinks to ask why the baby is important, much less what the survival plan is. No wonder God is, as Palicki suggests, “tired of all of the bullshit”—his creations are apparently irredeemably dumb.
And so is Legion, a cartoonishly grim supernatural thriller that could stand a lot less talk and a lot more thrills. When the first possessed people turn up at Palicki’s diner, director Scott Stewart goes into gleeful Evil Dead mode, sending a cackling, befanged old lady scrambling up a wall and turning an ice-cream man into a stretchy-jawed mutant straight out of The Mummy. But those two too-brief moments of joyfully over-the-top horror-humor jibe poorly with rest of the movie, which consists of excruciatingly torpid, pause-filled speeches, mostly about the characters’ histories and motivations, none of which prove remotely relevant as they die one by one and are instantly forgotten by the film and the other characters. There’s a lot of melodramatic breast-beating and angst-wallowing, but never to any point; it’s exactly as though everyone is killing time between expensive CGI segments. Horror-thrillers are allowed to be stupid, as long as they’re fun, but they should never be this boring.
The downtime could be forgiven if the rest of the film held together. But while the normally reliable Bettany lends the film a little undeserved gravity, the story is simultaneously predictable and nonsensical, a series of supernatural-thriller clichés executed in a rote rush. When several of the characters die offscreen, it’s a warning that the filmmakers don’t really care about them, backstories be damned. When Legion staggers to its obvious, heavily foreshadowed conclusion, it’s clear that the filmmakers don’t care about the viewers, either.