True Review: Left Behindby Niharika Puri October 11 2014, 3:22 pm Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 9 secs
Critics Rating: 1.5 Stars*
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Cassi Thomson, Chad Michael Murray, Nicky Whelan
Direction: Vic Armstrong
Produced: Michael Walker, Paul LaLonde
Written: Paul LaLonde, John Patus
Duration: 1 Hrs 45 Min
When Left Behind initially kicks off, it is an awkwardly enacted, poorly written introduction into the life of the Steele family before inevitable catastrophe strikes.
College student Chloe Steele (Cassi Thomson) flies down to New York to give her pilot father Rayford (NicolasCage) a birthday surprise, only to be told that he has been given a last minute flight to London. It isn’t just daddy dearest who is jet-setting to different locations; his heart has taken a detour from his Bible-quoting wife Irene (Lea Thompson) towards sleek, blonde flight attendant Hattie Durham (Nicky Whelan), who really could do better than Ray.
In mid-flight above and the world below, people are disappearing by the millions, leaving nothing but a wisp of air and worldly attire in their wake. The event is the Rapture, which does not find explicit mention in the Bible, where the true believers will be claimed into God’s protective embrace while the non-believers go through an extended period of tribulation as apocalyptic events unfold. Therefore, certain passengers on the plane (which had only two flight attendants to begin with) are missing. Chloe’s brother Raymie (Major Dodson) and her mother have vanished too. The film takes its time to explain why, though.
Left Behind is a reboot of the Left Behind series of films which were adapted from the Left Behind novel franchise authored by Tim La Haye and Jerry B. Jenkins. The books (16 in total) were more or less well-received. Unfortunately, the film adaptations have been looked upon with less of a kind eye. So the answer to why the director chose to resurrect the story is anybody’s guess, especially since Left Behind (2000) had more drama and action. The predecessor, though panned by the critics, had familial crisis, an Israeli temple and an Antichrist of a UN Secretary-General as plot elements.
What works least of all for the present film are the weak arguments for or against believing in God, which will satisfy neither the atheists nor the believers in the audience. All debate stems from how God would let families break apart or wreck devastating calamity upon the world. There is mercifully no browbeating of Bible studies, but no premise convincing enough either.
Instead of the political finagling or giving Chloe a more engrossing track (her sole purpose being to avoid being narrowly hit by vehicles and men with shotguns), Left Behind is all about panicking flight passengers and Ray trying to land a plane running on fumes.
There is a small track of journalist Cameron “Buck” Williams (Chad Michael Murray) falling for Chloe, which would have been cute if they did not have the most mind-dulling banter in the film. “I love that laugh”, he says to her during their first meeting. Forward much? Buck doesn’t make for the most interesting of movie characters or the most intelligent of journalists as he thrusts his camera into the faces of horrified passengers and spouts banal dialogue.
Left Behind is the sort of a film sitcoms depict if they have to parody poorly made movies. It is another addition of Nicolas Cage’s list of damp squibs, a pity because he does put in a good performance, as does Nicky Whelan.
It would have been best advised to skip this one, if the film did not have its mock-worthy moments. Board for this one only if you have that kind of time and a bantering bunch of companions to share a snigger with. Otherwise, you would do best to disappear before the pre-interval arrives.