Release Date: January 22, 2010

Movie of the Day for Tuesday, May 12, 2009
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That can't be a good thing.

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Position Staff In Brief
82/123 David Mumpower A great concept has some good moments but left me wanting on the whole.
176/190 Max Braden Forced and unoriginal. I'd suggest renting The Prophecy (with Christopher Walken and Viggo Mortensen) instead.

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Movies with a heavy religious bent are, honestly, a bit of a crapshoot these days. In 2004, Mel Gibson made a massively successful splash with The Passion of the Christ, and Kirk Cameron (remember him?) helped the low-budget Fireproof make its expenses back and then some, but most religious movies either go the way of Left Behind, a modestly successful but small release (starring Kirk Cameron! Remember him?) or The Prophecy, with its many direct-to-video sequels.

So Legion, an action-fueled movie with religious overtones, may end up being a surprising hit or a not-so-surprising flop. From Screen Gems, Legion focuses on a small group of people stuck in a diner in the Southwest after God unleashes some Old Testament-style wrath on all of humanity. With the majority of the human race decimated, it’s up to these few to reclaim their world once they discover a pregnant waitress at the diner happens to have more than just a normal baby gestating in her womb. No, the waitress isn’t about to turn into John Hurt halfway through Alien. It turns out she’s got the Messiah in her belly! My only question is why this wasn’t a Christmas release. The symmetry is too hard to ignore.

Though certain parts of the plot (or, at first glance, all of the plot) sound a bit too reminiscent of Kevin Smith’s underrated 1999 comedy Dogma, Legion is a thriller through and through, and the cast is nothing to sniff at. With actors like Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Paul Bettany, Charles S. Dutton, and Doug Jones (of Guillermo Del Toro movies like Pan’s Labyrinth), Legion may end up transcending its plotline with a first-rate cast.

Legion comes from co-writers Scott Charles Stewart and Peter Schink; it’s being directed by Stewart. This is Stewart’s feature directorial debut, but presuming the effects are important in this film, he’ll be right at home. He's worked on the visual effects of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Superman Returns, and The Lost World: Jurassic Park, among others. Now, let’s hope that when the special effects aren’t drowning out Quaid and company, things don’t fall apart. Actually, let’s start by hoping the special effects don’t drown out Quaid and company.

The last time Dennis Quaid had to deal with the potential of drowning, he was fighting off the end of the world in The Day After Tomorrow, and that didn’t help his attempted comeback at all. After all, an actor can only pretend to be shocked by cataclysmic weather patterns so much before it looks silly. How could the same actor from Far From Heaven and The Right Stuff be in that movie?

Quaid, of course, still remains an incredibly underrated and underutilized actor. Back in the 1990s, he was one-half of a celebrity marriage and now he’s in movies like The Express, which are barely seen before they leave theaters. It’s still worth hoping that Quaid’s comeback actually gains some ground, possibly with Legion. (Josh Spiegel/BOP)

Vital statistics for Legion
Main Cast Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson
Supporting Cast Jon Tenney, Charles S. Dutton, Lucas Black, Kate Walsh, Doug Jones, Adrianne Palicki, Kevin Durand, Willa Holland
Director Scott Stewart
Screenwriter Scott Stewart, Peter Schink
Distributor Screen Gems (Sony)
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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