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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Legion

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

"Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord."

This verse from the King James Version's translation of Psalm 34 opens—and is intended to set the tone for—the theologically skewed apocalyptic horror outing "Legion" (Screen Gems). But, as the next hour-and-a-half of screen time makes abundantly clear, director and co-writer (with Peter Schink) Scott Stewart's feature debut portrays the fear of the Lord in a very different manner than either the psalmist or the writers of Scripture in general.

Rather than the reverential submission due to a mighty but benevolent God, the emotion aimed at here seems to be the kind of frenzy which an all-powerful heaven-dwelling terrorist might produce. Thus the script takes for its premise that God has despaired of humanity's future and has unleashed hordes of demonic angels—not to mention pestilential swarms of insects—to destroy civilization and wipe out Earth's entire population.

But the archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) rebels against this petulant plan.

Knowing that Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), the lone waitress at a remote roadside cafe in the Mojave Desert, is pregnant (though unmarried) with a child who alone can save humanity, Michael sets out to defend the place against the repeated attacks of his fellow angels—who have, by now, taken possession of crowds of human beings, transforming them into zombielike killing machines—long enough for her to give birth.

And just when is Charlie's due date? Dec. 25, naturally.

Michael enlists the help of the eatery's owners, religious skeptic Bob (Dennis Quaid) and Bible believer Percy (Charles S. Dutton), Bob's gentle son Jeep (Lucas Black)—who humbly nurses a forlorn, all-accepting love for Charlie—and just-passing-through customer Kyle (Tyrese Gibson).

What follows is a long, grim slog that intersperses relentless, though only occasionally gory, violence with metaphysical mush. Despite a brief passage of dialogue about Charlie's experience in an abortion mill that can be read as conveying a pro-life message, the wearisome proceedings overall leave viewers feeling as besieged as the characters in that lonesome greasy spoon.

The film contains convoluted religious themes; constant, though mostly nongraphic, violence; an out-of-wedlock pregnancy; a couple of uses of profanity; much rough language (including at least 25 uses of the F-word); and some crude and crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.




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Martyrdom of John the Baptist: The drunken oath of a king with a shallow sense of honor, a seductive dance and the hateful heart of a queen combined to bring about the martyrdom of John the Baptist. The greatest of prophets suffered the fate of so many Old Testament prophets before him: rejection and martyrdom. The “voice crying in the desert” did not hesitate to accuse the guilty, did not hesitate to speak the truth. But why? What possesses a man that he would give up his very life? 
<p>This great religious reformer was sent by God to prepare the people for the Messiah. His vocation was one of selfless giving. The only power that he claimed was the Spirit of Yahweh. “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Scripture tells us that many people followed John looking to him for hope, perhaps in anticipation of some great messianic power. John never allowed himself the false honor of receiving these people for his own glory. He knew his calling was one of preparation. When the time came, he led his disciples to Jesus: “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37). It is John the Baptist who has pointed the way to Christ. John’s life and death were a giving over of self for God and other people. His simple style of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions. His heart was centered on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit of God speaking to his heart. Confident of God’s grace, he had the courage to speak words of condemnation or repentance, of salvation.</p> American Catholic Blog Just as my children become members of my family when I bring them into the world, so too our baptism incorporates us into the family of the Church. This supernatural membership prevents us from being orphans who have to fend for themselves in the spiritual wilderness.

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