Who’s In It: Paul Bettany, Adrianne Palicki, Lucas Black, Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Charles S. Dutton, Kate Walsh, Kevin Durand, Jon Tenney, Willa Holland, Doug Jones
The Basics: A run-down diner in the middle of the desert becomes ground zero for the Apocalypse when God finally decides he’s had enough with humanity’s B.S. He sends in an army of angels to kill off the one person who could save the human race: the unborn savior carried by pregnant waitress Charlie (Adrianne Palicki). Cut off from all communication with the rest of the world and held at bay by giant swarms of pestilence, Charlie and her fellow diner occupants – including 20-year-old Jeep (the kid from Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift), his father Bob (Dennis Quaid), their one-armed cook (Roc himself), and a handful of strangers (Addison from Grey's Anatomy, Tyrese Gibson, John Tenney, and Marisa's little sister from The O.C.) – must battle killer grandmas and deadly zombie-angel-people with the help of a stranger (Paul Bettany) who’s come to protect humanity’s last hope with a mini-arsenal of machine guns, rocket launchers, and sharp killing knives.
What’s The Deal: Though one might compare it with its more cerebral religious action counterpart, the equally brutal The Book of Eli, Scott Stewart’s Legion has something essential that the Hughes brothers flick was missing: a sense of fun. (Unless shark-toothed grannies walking on the ceilings and tearing people’s throats out or angels wielding electric, razored maces aren’t your idea of fun.) It’s told rather conventionally, so if you’ve seen any “ragtag band of survivors hole up in building” movies you can guess that the strangers will be diverse, each will have their own symbolic issues to deal with, and that many of them won’t make it out alive. Thankfully, most of the supporting cast manages to elevate their one-note characters beyond the simple ideas they represent (all hail Charles S. Dutton!), and subtle twists on familiar references (the Nativity story, James Cameron’s Terminator) keep the story just fresh enough.
Angels Are The New Vampires: Anne Rice was right; angels are just as hot and just as deadly as those bloodsuckers from Twilight and True Blood. Paul Bettany has never looked sexier, looking like a tattooed, holy-rolling, Gucci model-slash-mercenary who’s come to stare sensitively into your eyes and blast all of those evil monsters literally to hell.
Don’t Worry, Atheists, The Religious Stuff Isn’t Preachy: Legion’s pseudo-Christian themes include being anti-war, anti-abortion, finding one’s faith, and believing in a higher power (you would too, if freaky angels were trying to kill you). Thankfully for those of us who don’t like theological lessons shoved down our throats, the overlong moments of characters pondering their faith are more “Believe in yourself” than “Study the Bible!” and soon enough, the film gets back to mowing down angels with machine guns.
The Cool Parts: The way Paul Bettany lands on Earth like Michael Biehn and blasts holes in walls in the form of a cross. An early nod to It’s a Wonderful Life. How angels take over human bodies like Agent Smith in The Matrix. The razor-edged mace wielded by the Archangel Gabriel (LOST’s Kevin Durand), whose armored angel wings double as a bullet shield. And finally, the strangest trio of movie monsters we’ll see in all of 2010: a bloodthirsty old lady, a killer toddler, and the freakiest ice cream man in history.
If You Like Legion, Keep An Eye Out For: Priest, an adaptation of the graphic novel about a vampire-killing man of the cloth that will reunite star Paul Bettany and director Scott Stewart this August.