Themes involving the Christian religion? Check. Filmed largely in the brownness of New Mexico? Check. Denzel Washington? Negative. I guess two out of three isn't bad, but it isn't good, either. Not that Paul Bettany is a bad actor -- far from it. I like him. But there wasn't much even an angel could do to save this flick.

Let me back up a little. On a long, lonely, dusty highway in the southwestern United States, there's a place called Paradise Falls. It might be a town, or it might just be the name of the only diner/truck stop along that road for fifty miles in either direction. Bob Hanson (Dennis Quaid, Smart People) owns it, or maybe it owns him. He also has a son named Jeep (Lucas Black), who fixes cars. I'm hoping that he's actually nicknamed Jeep because he likes to fix cars, and doesn't like to fix cars because his father legally named him Jeep, so what else could he do?

Anyway, Jeep is madly in love with Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), who's eight months pregnant by some guy and hates her life. She works as a waitress at the diner, apparently the only waitress, which makes sense, because five customers at once is a huge rush for that place. Charlie wants her and Jeep to be just friends. Meanwhile, Howard, Sandra, and Audrey Anderson (Jon Tenney of "The Closer", Kate Walsh of "Grey's Anatomy", and Willa Holland of "The O.C.", respectively) are a wealthy family stranded there because their fancy BMW broke down. Kyle Williams (Tyrese Gibson from The Transformers flicks, soon to play Luke Cage in yet another comic-to-silver-screen adaptation) is there because he's lost. And Percy Walker (Charles S. Dutton, best known to me as Foreman's dad from "House") is stuck there because he works there, as the cook.

Then all heaven breaks loose.

God, for some unspecified reason, is angry at humankind. Since the flood thing has already been done, this time the angels come down for a more hands-on approach. Since it's also sometimes a sharp-teeth-in-skin approach, this is much bloodier than the flood. But one particular angel (Paul Bettany) decides that this whole plan is a Very Bad Idea, and decides he's going to do his level best to sabotage it. According to some prophecy (or something -- the movie is very vague about details like that), Charlie's baby is the last best hope for humankind; and yes, this is basically a remake of The Terminator, so maybe the angels know things because they're from the future.

Much shooting and death ensues. It actually didn't give me nightmares -- all the scariest stuff was in the previews, pretty much, and I was desensitized to that after seeing the previews seventeen times -- but it isn't pleasant. One place where the movie's actually pretty good, though, is in showing the siege mentality of the few trapped in the diner, and how different people react. Some of it's a little forced because they had to jam it into just 100 minutes of movie, and they have a lot of people to kill and cars to blow up; but otherwise it's pretty good.

The rest is... well, a lame remake of Terminator, as mentioned, and it's really a terrible waste of some good actors. (Though the guy who plays Gabriel (Kevin Durand) is so wooden he seems like he must be channeling Ben Affleck, but I don't think that's usual for him.) Anyway, in spite of the best efforts of Paul Bettany, I give this one two and a quarter idols. The first part was all right, but it went steadily downhill, until the last half hour was just dull and vaguely confusing, though that may have been because I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention by then. I was busy hoping for The Wolfman to be much better.

Originally posted 1/2010. The Luke Cage movie mentioned has since been pushed off into the limbo of the four question marks on imdb, when they don't even want to guess at when it might be released.

The first sign of the Apocalypse: People standing around gaping.


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