Profane, profanely silly and blasphemous, "Legion" begins well, then plunges into the abyss of tedium. For a few minutes the cast and crew of the most preposterous movie of the new year recognize it as preposterous and play along. Actors gape in terror and awe as the skies darken and the biblical apocalypse begins, with bugs and people possessed by angels converging on the Paradise Falls diner in the Mojave Desert.

Dennis Quaid, Lucas Black, Adrianne Palicki and others yell "What the hell IS this?" as hell rains down on them. Charles S. Dutton shouts, "I gotta get my Bible. SOMEbody's got to start praying!" And then the angel Michael, played by Paul Bettany and not John Travolta this time, shows up, fresh from hacking off his wings, robbing an L.A. gun shop and stealing an LAPD patrol car. He's locked and loaded. And he's on humanity's side.

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It's all about fending off the forces of the Lord long enough to give humanity a little hope. It's about the prophetic role of the pregnant waitress, Charlie (Palicki). It's about Tyrese Gibson swapping ammo clips and profanities with Quaid. And it's about Black going all weepy in that annoying way of his.

The acting settles into "indifferent" and the feeble action beats are stretched so far apart that you almost forget the "Zulu"/"Assault on Precinct 13"/"From Dusk Till Dawn" template at work here. Visual-effects guy turned director Scott Stewart gives this film few effects and no pace, losing himself in the personal crises of the various characters. The best jolt comes so early that the fact that no fresh jolt is attempted for the middle hour of the film makes it all the more boring.