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Film review of “Left Behind”: Nicolas Cage is the most sensible thing about this film

By Nick Venable | Updated

Nicolas Cage left behind

To be clear: Left behind The review could be subtitled “or, how I stopped worrying about IMDb tricking me into thinking it was a sci-fi movie and learned to accept that it was a flop.”

Left behindbased on the bestselling novel series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, is now a well-known apocalyptic story full of religion and disaster. And I knew in advance that the entire film would be a Deus ex Machine.

Still, I was hoping for some kind of genre subversion that would deserve the appropriate “science fiction” label, but that too fell by the wayside.

The title description applies, at least in some people’s opinion, to those left behind on the planet after an instantaneous mass disappearance has occurred and all the people in the world who were loyal to their faith have vanished.

The Left behind concept is inherently scary to me, no matter what the context. (HBO’s The rest plays this storyline in a completely different way.) The main problem with Left behind is that the focus of this story is a fish out of water and cannot exist as an action film, a religious film or even a thriller.

Left behind is a film in which a small person (Martin Klebba) is used for jokes about small people, and Nicolas Cage plays one of the few characters who keeps his wits about him throughout. What the hell Is The?

Cage plays Ray Steele, a married pilot who wants to spend his birthday at work and have more fun than with his wife Irene (Lea Thompson), who has spent the last year as a reformed Jesus follower. Ray’s daughter Chloe (Cassi Thomson) has come home especially for the celebration and is dismayed that he would rather work (and play) than attend to family matters.

Ray flies a plane full of weird stereotypes to London with sexy flight attendant Hattie (Nicky Whelan) and investigative reporter Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray), who follows in the co-hero’s footsteps once the crap disappears before the viewers’ eyes.

The first part Left behind tells this backstory of family and frustration, while also making it clear that Chloe doesn’t believe in God, because why would anyone believe in something that only brings people pain? (Those are pretty much her words.) She’s uncomfortable with her mother’s faith and has no problem telling her new boyfriend Buck all about it.

And then…poof. Everyone is gone and everyone else is panicking. I give Left behind much praise for presenting scenes and sequences that are atypical of disaster movies and the like. Director Vic Armstrong doesn’t go all out when showing us the massive damage that occurs around the world. Sure, there are stunts and explosions, but it’s not a complete CGI cacophony.

Left behind even stranger than that, and the crazy feelings the disappearance scene gave me had a lot to do with the soundtrack and score, which sounded like they were composed by people who only write music for hospital elevators.

There are scenes that go from a touching moment (heartbreaking strings) straight into an action beat (drums and guitar) and then into a racist joke between the people in first class (light piano). Honestly, the bizarre tone changes and the musical accompaniment are two of the main reasons to watch the film. Left behindYou will never say so many times in your life: “That will definitely not happen.”

It is strange that Left behind Screenwriters Paul Lalonde and John Patus, who also wrote Kirk Cameron’s original version, decided to base the entire film on Ray’s escape and Chloe’s ill-fated search for her little brother, one of the missing.

Cage has virtually nothing to do except fiddle with cockpit knobs and unsuccessfully attempt to communicate with airports, and Thomson isn’t a leading lady. I wasn’t expecting anything too unusual here, but if Cage is playing the most sensible character on screen, something’s lost in translation.

He does have a few glorious moments, though. When asked if he’s scared, Ray says, “I will be when I have time.” I wish that phrase was Ray’s motto in life.

So many possibilities in Left behindlike making Jordin Sparks an over-the-top woman who poses a tiny threat are impossible to understand, with the religious aspect being the dumbest of all. Before the believers disappeared, we mostly heard Chloe bitching about God and her mother for following God; after they’re gone, all we see is a world full of sinful people, only some of whom actually start behaving more virtuously. (People immediately start looting and stealing, go figure.)

The big event is eventually linked to God, but not in a “that was the bad guy all along” kind of way. You get the feeling that everyone behind this movie wanted people to say, “Man, this God is really an idiot. But wait, if he’s helping all these missing people by sending them to heaven, maybe he’s not so bad after all.”

Presumably a sequel is being prepared (there is a whole series of books) in which we now see the world trying to rebuild itself. (And then God can look Ray in the eyes and say, “Ray. (heavy breathing) I am your father,” and then there is a lightsaber fight.)

Do not watch Left behind if you want to see the next great disaster movie about airplanes or the next great movie about Christian values. See it if you want to experience the fifth best comedy of the year, and bring lots of your friends. What the world needs now is Power of tribulation.

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