I’m not prone to making sweeping statements on films. I think there is always a higher bar to reach or a lower depth to sink to. Unfortunately with Left Behind, a reboot of previous films and the successful book series, I feel we have hit the bottom.
To put this into perspective. I like Nicholas Cage. I also like films about the world ending, some form of rapture, a world-changing event etc. This is why I decided to ignore the one star rating on Netflix and give it a shot. How wrong was I? This film is such an abomination, from a film and spiritual point of view, that it deserves more attention. How has this right-wing Christian film snuck out under the radar, when the equivalent film about Scientology, Battlefield Earth, has been castigated and held up as a point of reference? Left Behind, gives us a mixed moral message, delivered in a sub-afternoon matinée style.
We are introduced to the characters and the message of the film early on. Cage plays a pilot who is about to fly from New York to London and miss his daughter’s birthday in the process. He appears to be a sleazy, womanizing sort, as he removes his wedding ring on seeing an attractive hostess. All very clunky, obvious and painful to watch. Cage seems to be either drunk or playing this part with a gun to his head so detached is his performance. His Daughter meets him at the airport and they have a small scene where they talk about his wife’s new-found religion. His daughter, Chloe then runs into Chad Michael Murray’s character Buck, an investigative journalist, who has been to some of the worlds worst disaster zones. Here we get the first heavy-handed dose of evangelical Christianity. Buck is literally accosted by a Christian woman in broad daylight at the airport, she has concerns with his work and lets him know about it. Chloe comes in and puts across her atheist sounding standpoint. This gives me great concern. The film clearly portrays Buck and Chloe as ‘good’ characters and the Christian at the airport as an annoying shrew. It is completely against the message the film is aiming for and makes no sense when the actual main event occurs.
Buck gets on Chloe’s fathers plane and they head to London. Chloe heads home to talk with her religious mother and taker her little brother to the mall. On the plane we get introduced to the rogues gallery of characters we are going to be entertained by. We get a gambling dwarf, a Muslim, a drug addict and a few other less obvious targets for the film makers. When the rapture happens we are treated to an awful range of special effects and some truly stupid set pieces. The actual flash that proceeds the rapture and subsequent disappearance of the worlds Christians, leaving only clothes behind, sets in place a number of poor special effects. Along with the screaming and shock of a loved one disappearing forever, Chloe has to combat, planes falling from the sky, cars crashing through the mall and general looting and riotous behaviour. On the plane it is more the shock factor of the plane staff and some passengers , just vanishing leaving their clothes. After a prolonged period, Cage’s character Ray seems to realise, that Christians are the common denominator in this.
I have a few problems with the portrayal of the saved Christians. They don’t seem to have done anything worthwhile in the film. They haven’t been shown doing good work, they haven’t been persecuted and they also just haven’ been there at all. If a film is to try and push the values of Christianity then surely it should actually show some of them. All we get is this void where we have no connection to the people who are gone and even less to those who remain. We end up just watching this car crash of a film out of morbid curiosity. When the actual plot begins to kick in things get even worse.
Ray’s co-pilot has been raptured so he is locked in the cockpit. The passengers decide to storm this or some unknown reason. As if the pilot is to blame for what has happened. The attractive hostess he had been planning an affair with remains but her other colleague, who showed no objections to the relationship when she discussed it has been raptured. Explain that? Ray decides cutting the oxygen is the best way to stop the riot and then joins forces with Buck to sort this out. They have a mid-air collision with another liner and damage their fuel line leading to the decision to head back to New York. They establish connection with Chloe on the ground and in the space of about 10 minutes have her clear a part of a highway to act as a runway. In this section we see Chloe wandering about as empty school buses fall around her and more destruction reigns. Unfortunately there is no fire and brimstone reigning down as the budget is so small. She somehow finds a motorbike lying on the ground, whose owner has been raptured and heads to the highway. Seems the Sons Of Anarchy are secretly Evangelical as the bike is a low rider. She neglects a helmet and uses a truck to clear the way. The plane lands without any real fuss and all of them are left standing looking out at the world. Cage says it looks like the end of the world, Chloe says it is only the beginning. Please don’t let there be a sequel.
I am uncomfortable slating any film based around religion, as it is a viable medium for people to put their message across. Unfortunately when the film is so poor and just so misguided, that it has the ability to annoy multiple religions including the one it is tying to promote, I feel compelled. The authors of the book series actually endorsed this film, so that rules out any chance of me giving the book series a try. This leaves only one good depiction of the rapture so far. American Dad season 6 episode 9. Rapture’s Delight. It manages to offend less and at least gives reasons why people get raptured.