Here’s Why You Write: ‘Legion’

By Randal Stevens · June 28, 2010


January and February are the doldrums of the film year.  When a film sucks and the studio knows it, they'll dump it in the heart of the winter wasteland where it's more acceptable and understandable if it doesn't make any money because movie attendance is down anyway.  Typically, this cinematic graveyard is the first stop for craptastic genre films, which more often than not are of the horror persuasion.  


This past January saw the release of two such films that battled for the title of Biggest Waste of Your Hard Earned Money.  When it came to the clash of Daybreakers vs. Legion, though, no matter what happened, you as an audience member, as well the film's A-list leads (Ethan Hawke for Daybreakers, Paul Bettany for Legion) were sure to lose.  WithDaybreakers, an interesting if not successful twist on the all too familiar vampire genre, viewers were able to escape with at least some dignity intact thanks to an intriguing premise and the gravity that Ethan Hawke brings to any title. Those who coughed up the cash to see Legion, a.k.a., May a Legion of Demons Forcibly Remove the Eyeballs from Your Head, weren't so lucky.


The premise of Legion is simple: God loses faith in humanity because of "Toddlers and Tiaras" (probably) and orders a legion of angels to eliminate all mankind by forcing them to watch Danielle Staub's sex tape (probably).  One angel, Michael, disobeys God's orders because he believes there's still faith in mankind since there's a remote diner in the desert somewhere where a ragtag group of strangers are arguing over who the most badass character was in "The Wire."  Oh, and because one of them, a girl named Charlie, is supposedly pregnant with a baby that will save mankind.  Michael takes it upon himself to protect Charlie, the guy from Alien 3, a boy named Jeep, Randy Quaid and other characters about whom you won't give a shit when heaven's forces converge upon blah blah blah.


Legion, aside from being nothing that hasn't been done better before (The Prophecy), is either a terrible waste of first-time director Scott Charles Stewart's time or a suitable starting point for him to show off his visual flair.  Stewart, former senior staff member of the effects house, The Orphanage, had previously done visual work on such titles as The Host, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Iron Man and it's his eye for a good shot that becomes the only thing worth remembering.  That is to say, his visual style becomes the only positive thing worth remembering about Legion, because for some reason, he and (not &) writer Peter Schink overlooked one GAPING plot hole while writing that implodes the entire film.  


You see, despite the fact that Michael chooses the group he does because he claims Charlie's baby is the only hope for mankind, the question of why Charlie's baby holds that distinction is never ever explained.  I've conversed with a friend who wasn't bothered by this fact because, as he claims, the question of why is just a macguffin.  This, however, is bullshit.  A macguffin, as we all (hopefully) know, is a false inciting incident that brings a protagonist into a much larger story.  In Chinatown, the fake Evelyn Mulwray's hiring of J.J. Gittes to investigate her "husband," Hollis Mulwray, is a macguffin that draws him Gittes into the much larger plot of murder, rape, incest and corruption.  Why Charlie's baby will save mankind is not a macguffin – it's the ENTIRE FUCKING REASON the movie even exists in the first place.  Once Michael gets to the diner, there is no larger plot, nothing more to discover, no conflict that makes us forget about Charlie's baby.  Even if the important fact is not that Charlie is pregnant, but that somewhere in the world at this crux in history there is a human in general that's pregnant, then why is the location significant?  


Not only is the why not insignificant, it's the most significant question in the entire movie – and they don't even answer it!  Imagine if Ghosbusters hadn't answered the question of why paranormal activity in New York City was on the rise and instead thought we'd be satisfied by Peter and Dana's love story.  You wouldn't feel very satisfied by that, would you?