Left Behind (2014)

15 Aug

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Smith’s Verdict: 1/2*

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

The End is near.

That’s what I had to remind myself every few minutes as I was watching this film—“The end [of the movie] is near, the end [of the movie] is near…”

You would think that a disaster movie in which the priceless enigma known as Nicolas Cage (who can either be a very gripping actor or a wacky presence that brings most bad movies up a notch) desperately tries to find his family while also trying to land an airplane when the world is in shambles would at least be entertaining in a so-bad-it’s-good sort of way. But this re-adaptation of the popular “Left Behind” Christian book series is so lifeless and boring that it makes the original 2000 adaptation (starring Kirk Cameron) look like “Casablanca.” And unfortunately, Cage doesn’t help—he seems half-asleep throughout the entire movie, when all that could be done to raise this movie to entertaining levels is a trademark Cage freak-out performance.

It shocks me that this remake was directed by the director of the previous version, Vic Armstrong. It’s almost as if he was wondering how he could possibly make it even worse than before. Give the original film some credit—the political intrigue presented in the dawn-of-the-Antichrist story gave some indication that there was some effort to make it thought-provoking. This remake is just throwing “Airport”-type clichés in with fundamentalist Christian theologies repeated over and over to make sure we get the point.

And I’m not kidding—much of this movie consists of spelling out the evangelical Christian message that the Rapture is coming, the End is near, etc. and so on. It’s like the makers of this film want to remind us who made this piece of uninspired propaganda.

Oh, and there are a few car crashes, a prop plane crash, and a big explosion thrown in just to try and wake up the small audience outside its target demographic.

Oh right, the story. Well, Nicolas Cage is a pilot named Ray Steele, who is called into work on his birthday, just as his adult daughter, Chloe (Cassi Thomson), arrives in town. Chloe believes her father is having an affair with a flight attendant, Hattie (Nicky Whelan), and tries to reconnect with her newly religious mother (Lea Thompson), but differing beliefs (and ignored warnings from mother to unaffiliated daughter) cause more friction between the two. The Rapture occurs while Cage’s plane is in mid-air and Chloe is taking her little brother to the mall. The brother is gone (in fact, all the children are gone all over), many passengers on the plane are gone, much of the townspeople have vanished as well, and it becomes clear to many that these disappearances have happened all over the world. Cage’s co-pilot has gone as well. With help from investigative journalist Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray, who I’ll give credit to for trying to make something out of a nothing role), Cage tries to land the plane safely before the remaining, scared passengers go even crazier with paranoia.

“Left Behind” feels so proud of its portrayal of the first stage of the End (first is the Rapture, next is the Tribulation, and on and on until finally, Judgment Day) that it ends on a blatant cliffhanger. How blatant? Well, it ends with this exchange—“Looks like the end of the world.” “No. I’m afraid this is just the beginning.” I don’t think so. I sat through this thing, I don’t intend on sitting through it again, and I definitely don’t intend on seeing this story continue any further.

And to think this thing came out the same year as “Joe,” the film that reminded us how good of an actor Cage can be.

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