Angels With Filthy Souls (Legion, 2010)

Legion_PosterSo, God has lost faith in humanity and is going to go all “Noah’s Ark” on humanities ass…except there is no plan to save anyone. But one angel, Michael, feels in his heart that God is wrong and decides he must intervene. So, he comes to Earth to get some guns.

At a remote diner, Charlie is pregnant with humanity’s only hope. Soon the diner and it’s occupants are under siege by what they assume are people possessed by demons. Michael shows up and informs them these are actually people possessed by angels.

Michael explains he is there to help hold the other angels off until the baby is born (the film is set on Christmas Eve). The characters desperately fight to make it through it as more and more angels arrive. But Michael has a ton of guns to use and share with the folks in the diner.

Honestly, the film is pretty silly. It is trying to be a little of everything…there are sharp toothed angel possessed people, a creepy ice cream man, but lots of action movies stunts and shooting of the guns. Gabriel has a pretty wicked mace though.

The drama just comes off as kind of silly. Which is kind of sad.

You see, the film is full of interesting ideas. God has grown weary of humanity letting Him down with our darkness. This film has hints of the Sodom and Gomorrah story in the bible, except Michael is the one petitioning to save humanity and instead of one righteous soul, he seeks to save a baby.

The film wants you to see the big ideas…faith, can God’s heart be turned from anger (again, this has big shades of Noah)? Can an angel rebel against God and be forgiven? What is the nature of mercy. But the movie deals with these thing ineptly.  Not unlike Director Scott Stewart’s follow up to this film, Priest (also starring Paul Bettany), the most important thing is not story, but stylishness.

I Hate Mondays Chapter 1 (John Wick, 2014)

John_Wick_PosterJohn Wick is having a bad day.  A really bad one.  This is the gist of the film.  John Wick is mourning the death of his wife.  He is gassing up his car one day when some punks express interest his car.  That night, they break in, assault John, hurt his dog and steal his car.

One little thing…John Wick is a notorious hitman.  He is the boogeyman hitmen tell each other about.  Wick had retired, but now he has a mission.  That mission is to get his car back…but that means a whole lot of people are going to meet untimely ends.

John Wick is an action film with no aspirations to be anything else.  Wick is a very simple character in a post-Taken world.  He has a very special skill set and connections to a very dangerous community. This works in the film’s favor, as it makes it pretty easy to go along with the outlandish action sequences.

I have long argued that the key to a good Keanu Reeve performance is a character who might be smart, but is generally clueless about the plot.  And admit it…most of his most memorable performances involve kind of clueless characters.

Not John Wick.  Wick knows who he is, what he wants and how to do it.  And it is pretty exciting to see him do it.  The fights are tightly choreographed and eye catching.  Reeves maintains a strong presence considering the fact that there is not much to the character.  This is a lean action film full of characters with no real complexity.  Each character has a specific role and they play it well.  The film does not give you a lot of background to many characters…instead it allows the actors to bring a certain amount of their own presence.  Ian McShane gives the “Overlord” Winston instant gravitas, while Lance Reddick’s Charon carries a real weight of quiet authority.

This is director Chad Stahelski’s directorial debut.  He was primarily a stunt coordinator/choreographer who has done some assistant director work…but for a debut film, Stahelski does a pretty solid job.  Probably the biggest knock against the film is the choice to view the entire film through a blue tint, which can get annoying at times.

John Wick is a strong debut for a first time director and a good start to what has become a franchise.

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