Left Behind (2014)

Posted by Joel Copling on October 2, 2014

At the end of days, will all human life vanish from Earth with this much self-parody? Director Vic Armstrong's "Left Behind" is the rebooted adaptation of Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye's insanely popular series of Christian novels about the Apocalypse, and it's fitting that adapting screenwriters Paul Lalonde and John Patus were also responsible for the silly, direct-to-video trilogy starring Kirk Cameron. Now it's 2014, and the series has attracted a random assortment of names like Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray (taking over from where Cameron left off in the role of Cameron "Buck" Williams, an intrepid, celebrity reporter of natural disasters), and Jordin Sparks (as perhaps the craziest of air travelers). The results are much the same as before: The drama is inert, the urgency is minimal, and the scope of what would easily be considered a worldwide tragedy is shoved onto the shoulders of some of the most poorly cast extras in motion picture history.

Chloe Steele (Cassi Thomson) has arrived home from school to surprise her father, commercial pilot Ray (Cage, who is surprisingly effective late in the picture), only to discover that he's landed a trans-Atlantic flight just in time to miss his own birthday party. Chloe is disappointed, clearly, and feels even more defeated when it becomes clear that Ray is cheating on his recently devout wife Irene (Lea Thompson). All that is about be rendered null, though, when millions across the world disappear, leaving their clothes and personal possessions behind. Is it, as one frightened passenger on Ray's flight suggests, an alien abduction? Are they in another dimension? Are they merely invisible?

None of those choices is correct, for they have been taken to Heaven in the Rapture, merely the first step in the apocalyptic event recounted in the biblical book of Revelations. There is effectiveness in the initial disappearance sequence, as Chloe is hugging her brother Raymie (Major Dodson) at the time. Unfortunately, the nameless, faceless people surrounding her kill that effectiveness in record time, relegating what should be a terrifying situation to a display of unfunny physical comedy and flailing histrionics. That melodrama pervades "Left Behind," with only Cage coming out of the proceedings relatively unscathed. Otherwise, this is a hack job, with editing that bounces randomly through a poorly conceived narrative and visual effects that aren't even up to the job of landing a plane that has no fuel or gear to do so.

Film Information

Nicolas Cage (Ray Steele), Cassi Thomson (Chloe Steele), Chad Michael Murray (Buck Williams), Nicky Whelan (Hattie Durham), Lea Thompson (Irene Steele), Major Dodson (Raymie Steele), Jordin Sparks (Shasta Carvell), Martin Klebba (Melvin Weir), William Ragsdale (Chris Smith), Quinton Aaron (Simon), Stephanie Honore (Kimmy), Lance E. Nichols (Pastor Bruce Barnes).

Directed by Vic Armstrong and written by Paul Lalonde and John Patus, based on the novel by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye.

Rated PG-13 (thematic elements, violence/peril, brief drug content).

110 minutes.