A blog about movies and filmmaking.

Would you ever really want to meet an angel?

In action, Horror on January 25, 2010 at 2:52 am

That’s a quote from the mid-90’s angel-centric movie, THE PROPHECY, starring Christopher Walken, Viggo Mortensen, and Elias Koteas; who speaks the line. In the movie, his character was in seminary school, when he had an apocalyptic vision right before he was to be ordained. During a moment later in the movie, he asks the main female lead (Virginia Madsen),

“Did you ever notice how in the Bible, when ever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood.”

Ending with the question in the title of this post. Amazingly enough, I’m actually not here to write about THE PROPHECY; but another movie featuring angels.

LEGION, the first feature effort by writer/director Scott Stewart, is about the archangel Michael – played by Paul Bettany – who forgoes his place in Heaven in order to protect a pregnant woman named Charlie (played by Adrianne Palicki), who might be humanity’s last hope for salvation. You see, as expressed in both the opening and closing monologue of the movie – they’re the same monologue, just repeated – God is seemingly fed up with “all the bullshit”. So, he’s sending angels down to destroy humanity, and Charlie’s baby in particular.

The main setting for the story is a diner, in the middle of nowhere named “Paradise Falls”. The diner is run by Bob (Dennis Quaid) with his son Jeep (Lucas Black); Charlie is the waitress; and Percy the one-handed cook is played by Charles S. Dutton. When we first get inside, we are introduced to a couple of customers that are only there because they’re lost or their car broke down, like the family played by Jon Tenney (THE CLOSER), Kate Walsh (PRIVATE PRACTICE), and Willa Holland (THE O.C.) as the daughter. Lastly, there’s Tyrese Gibson, as Kyle – a guy from Las Vegas who is lost and stops for directions and cigarettes.

The movie plays as a combination of THE PROPHECY and MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, with an onslaught of angel-possessed people placing the diner under siege. There are some interesting things in the movie, like the look and use of the angels’ wings, their halos. There was a cool thing where it looked like the world would be going through the seven plagues – starting with flies, then there were boils, but then that kind of got left on the side. But other than that, and some of the fun/nasty splatter action, there’s not much to the movie. The story is weak – which isn’t that big of a surprise for a movie coming from someone mainly with a special effects background. But, it’s the actors and their interactions that help keep the movie alive.

Bettany, as the leading character gets to play a character almost darker and more mysterious than his monk in THE DA VINCI CODE – we even get a shot of his feet during a moment of self-mutilation. As the angel that was to have cast Satan from Heaven, we get a grim, slight figure; with lots of interesting tattoos. But, put this together with his playing Charles Darwin in the movie CREATION, and a priest in the movie…well, PRIEST – in a movie about vampires, no less – and Paul Bettany might finally be entering the spotlight that he’s deserved since I probably first noticed him in A KNIGHT’S TALE as Chaucer; or as the Surgeon in MASTER AND COMMANDER.

Quaid and Dutton, as the senior cast members do their best with the roles they have. Dutton, is obviously the far more talented and charismatic actor of the two, and even manages to deliver a pretty touching – though not enough to get me to cry, as the two characters on screen do – speech about “getting right with your life”. All that and wearing a hook prosthetic on his hand. Quaid, plays a worn-out hillbilly, who has finally reached his limit watching his son waste his time in the middle of nowhere. There’s not much meat for him, but he has some good one-liners.

Adrianne Palicki, who I guess would be best known to audiences from her role on the TV series, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS – which I sadly haven’t watched, despite the raves I’ve heard about it – as Charlie, the pregnant waitress unfortunately isn’t really too convincing as an expectant-mother who doesn’t want her baby; no matter how many cigarettes she smokes. But, she does alright for what her character is asked to do – which is nothing, basically. Lucas Black, who starred in the second sequel in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, as well as the movie version of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, plays the younger hillbilly with a sympathetic – if not just pathetic – demeanor; we feel for him when we see how much he wants to take care of Charlie. Though he doesn’t seem to have the slightest spark of interest in trying to leave the broken down diner, or tiny trailer behind it where he lives, as his father tries to convince him to do. Tyrese, is really the only other character that we come close to caring about. He’s probably given the most character development throughout the movie and even takes a role that could have really come off as a “one-note black guy” into someone that lives and breathes and even has a life outside this story.

Finally, there’s Kevin Durand. In the small amount of time it’s been that I first saw him on-screen – it was either in LOST or 3:10 TO YUMA – he’s made a pretty big impression (not only because of his size). Having now seen him in interesting roles, like in the show DEAD LIKE ME into this past Summer’s WOLVERINE (where he really had one of the better moments, with his, “did you call me ‘Blob’?” comment), I’ve really grown to like him. Here, as Gabriel, he’s quieter but still pretty bad ass and he does an adequate job. Especially with the fight scenes – which I’ll be interested to know how much of the wings he had to actually wear and how much was CGI.

The action, in itself is fun and explosive. There was a good amount of gore and yuckiness that helped keep the movie interesting. It was also nice to see that the main things they used to sell the movie, in the trailers – the creepy ice cream guy (Doug Jones) and the freaky old woman (Jeanette Miller) who jumps on the ceiling – were not only still there, but actually had a moment or two that hadn’t been played a lot. The best (read: ridiculous) jokey moment, might actually be when Michael busts into an armory to retrieve his arsenal and as he explodes his way out – the hole in the wall is a cross. (Get it, cuz he’s an angel!!)

So while I’d say that the movie was worth a watch, it’s definitely forgettable. Scott Stewart definitely has a great visual style, and seems to have the chops to make a good movie. But lets hope he gets someone with a little more experience, or better sense of story, next time. (Peter Schink is credited as co-writer, by the way.). I’ll be waiting for that. Until then, though, I’d recommend checking out THE PROPHECY – my friend at Murmur, Coleman Ranahan, recently watched it and all of it’s sequels; but I only really recommend watching the first one. Especially for the appearance of Viggo Mortensen in an early role, that’s magnificent.

  1. Hi just thought i would tell you something.. This is twice now i’ve landed on your blog in the last 3 days hunting for totally unrelated things. Spooky or what?

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