When I heard Left Behind was being remade starring Nicholas Cage, I was skeptical to say the least. If you are unaware, back in 2000, Kirk Cameron released the original Left Behind movie based on the best selling book series of the same name. Though a step up in Christian cinema at the time, it was still pretty awful. When Tribulation Force (2002) and World at War (2005) were released, it was safe to say the franchise was not going to last through the whole series. Written, directed, and produced on a shoe-string budget, these films were one step below made for TV movies. Fast forward to 2014, expand the budget, get some notable talent to join the project; can we save this series with so much potential? Sadly… no, we can’t.
Left Behind stars Nicholas Cage as a philandering pilot named Rayford Steele. We find Rayford on a non-stop flight to London where he plans to “seal the deal” with a beautiful flight attendant, Nicky Whelan (Hall Pass). Much to his surprise his daughter, Chloe, played by Cassi Thompson (Big Love), has come home from college to visit him on his birthday. While waiting in the airport, she meets investigative journalist Buck Williams, Kirk Cameron’s character, now portrayed by Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill). Chloe and Buck have a meet cute and they bond over her frustration with her mom, played by Lea Thompson (Back to the Future), and her new found faith in Jesus. “She’s gone crazy. I want my mom back” is the gist of their conversation. With that, Buck conveniently jumps on Rayford’s plane leaving his new “love” behind as he heads for London.
It is through the eyes of Rayford and his daughter that we see the rapture happen. While at the mall with her kid brother, who disappears mid hug, we see the rapture begin. She quickly realizes this is not an isolated event. Her brother and billions around the world have simply vanished leaving a nice stack of clothes in their place. This kicks off the “tension” for the film. In actuality, the rapture will be the most catastrophic event to ever happen, however the movie made it only slightly distressing. Don’t get me wrong, people freaked out, it just felt so… fake. This is likely to be the most neutered version of the apocalypse you’ve seen in years. You would think a story about the sudden disappearance of billions of people around the world would have some built in tension, drama, and story, but according to Left Behind, you would be wrong.
Perhaps it was the bad production, terrible script, poor dialogue, mediocre acting, and Lifetime Network-esque musical score that left a bad taste in my mouth. It could even be the fact that the majority of the movie takes place in the business class section of a plane full of C-List actors. Perhaps I feel cheated out of a classic Nick Cage freakout moment. I can’t pick just one thing. Left Behind was just… bad. I might even say it was worse than the 2000 edition. At least that version had a low budget to blame. Though well intentioned attempting to bring a Biblical truth to light, Left Behind, will likely fail to cause anyone to second guess their eternal destination.
In summary, I watched this movie so you didn’t have to. You’re welcome.
I will leave you with this entertaining true story. Near the end of the film in the “will they crash, won’t they crash” (spoiler?) moment something happened that made me think “really?” Shortly thereafter, three rows back and to the left I hear loudly, “OH COME ON!” followed by the theather erupting in laughter. My guess is this was not the desired reaction of the filmmakers, but if you’re looking for a three word review for Left Behind I couldn’t have said it better myself…
Left Behind “Oh, come on!”