The angel Michael (Bettany) has fallen from heaven, cut off his wings and armed himself to the teeth. Soon he's holed up in a remote desert diner run by Bob (Quaid) and his son Jeep (Black). Michael encourages the rag-tag group in the diner (including Gibson's shady tough guy, one-armed chef Dutton and bickering family Walsh, Tenney and Holland) to fight an invading horde of zombies, apparently sent by God to destroy humanity. And mankind's only hope is to save the unborn child of a waitress (Palicki) from the snarling angel Gabriel (Durand).
So far so silly, and indeed there are moments when it's clear that the filmmakers knew full-well how corny their premise was. But there's a niggling indulgence in here as well, and things get thoroughly overblown as director Stewart gives in to his clear adoration of big guns, gleaming knives and giant hunks of under-cooked steak, plus corny surprises when icons of niceness turn nasty (with some cool digital assistance). And it's never quite clear why angels need to arm themselves with huge guns and bigger blades while wearing leather bondage gear.
As always, Bettany dives into this film as if it's the gospel, fully investing in the character and actually making us care about him. And this rubs off on some of the side characters as well, including Black's simple hero and Palicki's conflicted mum-to-be. And they face some inventively nutty foes along the way, including the uber-camp Durand, combining real tension and horror with laughter at the gonzo nerve of it all.
The central question here is whether humanity deserves to survive on earth. But the script only addresses this with some half-hearted moralising about justice issues and the environment. Instead, the movie focuses completely on the grunting, gruelling fight scenes, with some pretty extreme grisliness as the air fills with bullets and swordplay. It's dully enjoyable while it lasts, but could have been a lot more fun.
Run time: 100 mins
In Theaters: Friday 22nd January 2010
Box Office USA: $40.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $48.1M
Distributed by: Screen Gems
Production compaines: Bold Films
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 20%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 82
IMDB: 5.1 / 10
Director: Scott Stewart
Producer: David Lancaster, Michel Litvak
Screenwriter: Peter Schink, Scott Stewart
Starring: Paul Bettany as Michael, Dennis Quaid as Bob Hanson, Kevin Durand as Gabriel, Kate Walsh as Sandra Anderson, Doug Jones as Ice Cream Man, Lucas Black as Jeep Hanson, Tyrese Gibson as Kyle Williams, Adrianne Palicki as Charlie, Charles S. Dutton as Percy Walker, Jon Tenney as Howard Anderson, Kate Walsh as Sandra Anderson, Jeanette Miller as Gladys Foster, Cameron Harlow as Minivan Boy, Josh Stamberg as Burton, Yancey Arias as Estevez, Willa Holland as Audrey Anderson
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