The Legion is bizarrely bad, but it's also too boring to reach cult status as a "so bad it's good" film. The story is a shell of a good idea, but many viewers -- especially teens -- will require a clearer explanation of what's happening. It's a sword-and-sandals epic where punches don't connect and the actual action frustratingly happens just out of frame. Most of Rourke's scenes as General Cabulo have him all alone, stiff-jaw monologuing to a bust of Nero. Oh, and while playing the much admired, famously tough Roman leader, Rourke sports a Captain Jack Sparrow-esque look that includes an eye patch -- which he lifts at one point to reveal that his eye is totally intact. Why? Bai Ling, who's credited as one of the stars, doesn't show up until the very end to add some tacked-on political intrigue -- it's as if the filmmakers finished shooting the movie, and then got her to sign on, and then wrote an unnecessary scene for her. Equally bizarre? Three-quarters of the way through the film, there's a twist: an appearance by the biblical figure Saul, who's better known as Paul the Apostle. Surprise, this is actually a faith-based film!
As Saul was, indeed, around during this time in history, it's not a terrible idea to have him meet and interact with a Roman warrior to promote the peaceful teachings of Jesus Christ. But the characters' conversation isn't compelling enough, and the whole scene is such an odd insertion that it takes you out of the story. Again, you can only imagine that a financier came on board who insisted on Christian messaging, because Noreno's faith only shows up during the wrap, which looks like it was shot on the set of a high school play. The Legion ends with an excruciatingly long shot of a painting to demonstrate live action -- and that may be the worst offense. Still, the film does have something substantial to offer: gorgeous cinematography. Most of the film consists of Noreno's week-long marathon across snowy, rocky mountains. At times, it's absolutely beautiful -- a credit to cameraman Robert Reed Altman (son of legendary director Robert Altman). The contrast between that and the final, stagnant shot makes it clear that director José Magán gave up. Teens? They'll have given up within the first five minutes.