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‘Legion’

The new end-of-days horror/action flick “Legion” sports a premise in which God is so over humankind that it’s everything-must-go time for the planet’s inhabitants. Too bad the supreme beings who decide what movies get made in Hollywood aren’t yet fed up themselves with their own generated pestilence: tired, loud, dumb time-wasters like this.

Crossing Western tropes, mytho-religious hokum and the current vogue for apocalyptic scenarios, “Legion” opens with mysterious stranger Michael (Paul Bettany) falling to Earth (namely, L.A.), cutting off the wings that brought him here, then appropriating a cache of weapons.

Meanwhile, in the Mojave Desert, a loose collection of characters at a rickety diner -- the down-on-his-luck owner (Dennis Quaid), his glum yet dutiful son (Lucas Black), the owner’s partner (Charles S. Dutton), a pregnant waitress (Adrianne Palicki), and a handful of patrons -- mope while a CGI flower of foreboding gray looms on the horizon. It’s the elderly customer who morphs into a wall-crawling, bloodthirsty menace, though, that wakes everyone up to the suddenly ominous shift in the air. Then Michael shows up as the gunslinging renegade angel hoping to reverse a merciless slate-cleaning and save humanity (which, of course, involves an unborn baby).

Movies this ludicrous pull back from all-out camp at their own peril. So, while Kevin Durand’s louche archangel Gabriel is a juicy howler -- sporting designer armor plating, sharp-edged wings and a spiky, whirring mace -- the mini-chamber dramas of faithlessness and bruised hope among the mortals, as concocted by director Scott Stewart and credited co-screenwriter Peter Schink, are snooze-worthy, cliché-ridden afterthoughts. Performances, meanwhile, range from old hands having bad days (Dutton, Quaid) to pretty faces looking lost (Palicki, Black). And though Bettany works the anti-heroic moodiness well enough, he’s hardly a celestial Clint Eastwood.

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As for the battle sequences, they make noise rather than raise hairs, ripping off everything from zombie flicks to “Assault on Precinct 13" to Chucky movies. “Legion” may traffic in signposts of the apocalypse, but the whole affair mostly indicates that we’re in the movie wasteland that is January.

calendar@latimes.com


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