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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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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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