*How often do you have a film where God’s the villain? Very rarely, indeed.

However, just such a novel scenario provides the intriguing premise for Legion, a blasphemous, apocalyptic adventure certain at least to delight the atheist demographic.

The movie marks the directorial debut of Scott Stewart, previously best known for his stellar special effects work on such visually-captivating blockbusters as Jurassic Park, Live Free or Die Hard, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and Night at the Museum.

Here, he has assembled an A-List ensemble to serve as sacrificial lambs for the sake of his high attrition-rate horror flick. The talented cast includes Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Tyrese, Charles S. Dutton and Lucas Black.

The story unfolds a couple of days before Christmas when the Archangel Michael (Bettany) lands in Los Angeles on a mission from the almighty. He’s ostensibly been sent from Heaven to eradicate mankind from the face of the Earth, because the Lord has lost faith in the human race. Lucky for us, Michael decides to defect and to fight the army of fellow angels arriving in his wake.

Meanwhile, in the Mojave Desert, there are some strange goings-on at a truck stop diner prophetically-named Paradise Falls. There, we meet about to pop Charlie (Adrianne Malicki), a mom-too-be who shares a nearby trailer with auto mechanic Jeep (Black). He’s an ardent admirer, but not the father of the baby. Underachieving Jeep has mostly been a big disappointment to his dad, Bob (Dennis Quaid), the widowed owner of the rundown service station/restaurant. The only other employee on the premises is Percy (Dutton), the greasy spoon’s one-armed chef.

The fun starts when an elderly woman on a walker (Jeanette Miller) inexplicably exhibits superhuman strength before taking a big bite out of the neck of another customer (Jon Tenney). As it turns out, this possessed demon is actually out to abort Charlie’s unborn infant, who might very well be the Second Coming of Christ. Fortunately, streetwise Kyle (Tyrese) happens to be packing heat, and he blows granny away, making the bug-eyed observation that, “The bitch just walked on the ceiling.”

From this juncture forward, the tale telescopes in on the people’s valiant struggle to survive` barricade themselves inside the diner to brace for the onslaught of a holy horde led by the Archangel Gabriel. With the help of Michael, who arrives with guns and ammo, the ensuing battle royal between good and evil gives people a fighting chance against God.

If the plot sounds suspiciously similar, you might have seen The Seventh Sign, another end of days drama in which Demi Moore’s pregnant character represents the last hope for humanity. In the case of Legion, the eye-popping special f/x outweigh the frequently corny dialogue to yield an old-fashioned B-screamer that’s an amusing enough diversion to be worthwhile, so long as you don’t mind faith-based fare where Messengers of God might not ultimately prevail.

It’s a wonderful life where every time you hear a whelp ring out, another angel gets his head blown off.  

Good (2 stars)
Rated R for profanity and graphic violence.
Running time: 104 Minutes
Distributor: Screen Gems

To see a trailer for Legion, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejJvnZm7UOY

Film review by Kam Williams