Left Behind is what happened to this film. As Dying of the Light dies on its arse at the box office, this straight-to-DVD Nicolas Cage flick fares no better.
With an obscenely long intro where we see how Nicolas Cage is airplane pilot Rayford Steele, and we’re introduced to his family including wife Irene (Lea Thompson – looking a hell of a lot better than you might’ve expected if you’ve only seen her older self in Back To The Future Part II) and soppy daughter Chloe (Cassi Thomson), it takes 32 minutes before anything actually happens in this film, and that’s the point when something clearly passes by the Earth, along with everything above it, as people suddenly disappear for no apparent reason, and everyone else is… left behind. They’ve also each left behind their clothes, so wherever they’ve gone, they’re going to be a teensy bit embarrassed!
The potential “end of the world” scenario brings out the bible bashers who believe that mankind has trampled over God’s green and pleasant land, conveniently side-stepping the question of why didn’t He stop the ensuing famines, pestilence and death.
Left Behind spends too long on ponderous ’empty room’ scenarios where everyone has disappeared, occasionally throwing in the predictable pull-back of a curtain or someone appearing out of nowhere, followed by a musical crescendo. And then, when the reveal comes and we learn the reason for everyone disappearing, I was all, “Oh, please, do me a favour!!”
The cast are written as cardboard cut-out characters: The last remaining air stewardess, Hattie (Nancy Whelan) – who wants to drink his fuel while he inspects her flaps – spends all her time crying and/or looking full of angst; there’s a dwarf who assumes everyone’s having a go at him because he’s short; and most of them seem to think that the sole Muslim man on board is a terrorist.
And then it gets worse when the film stalls even quicker than a plane without fuel when a drippy love ballad comes in, and there can only be one explanation: this story can must’ve have been written for a bet. In fact, I’m flabbergasted not only that it was a published novel from two authors, but another two people turned it into a screenplay and an entire movie studio greenlit the project. And, to add insult to injury, not only were three films made between 2000 and 2005, with this latest film being a reboot of the first, but the whole kit and caboodle is a series of THIRTEEN Christian-based books. Unlucky for some? Unlucky for anyone who watches this.
And to add insult to insult to injury, every last element of danger that people face – either the plane crew above, or the rest of the public below, is something that’s been done before, and the CGI in a particular scene near the end of the film is just appalling. In fact, it looks unfinished.
Still – it could’ve been worse. As the first film was released in 2000, they could’ve revisited that era by inviting Cliff Richard as a special guest to sing The Millennium Prayer.
Vic Armstrong has had a prolific career as a stuntman and stunt coordinator over almost 50 years, working on films like the Indiana Jones, James Bond and Star Wars series, plus Thor, The Amazing Spider Man and Mission Impossible III. This is his second job as director following 1993’s Joshua Tree. Please don’t give up the day job, Vic.
Still, Nicolas Cage, look on the bright side – after Dying of the Light and Left Behind, your 2015 really can’t get any worse.
Left Behind gets 1/10 for the mere potential it had. Sadly, it then throws it all away.
Note that this review is for the film only.
Running time: 110 minutes
Studio: Entertainment One
Format: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Released: January 5th 2015
Director: Vic Armstrong
Producers: Ed Clydesdale, Paul Lalonde and Michael Walker
Screenplay: Paul Lalonde and John Patus (based on the novel by Jerry B Jenkins and Tim LaHaye)
Music: Jack Lenz
Rayford Steele: Nicolas Cage
Buck Williams: Chad Michael Murray
Hattie Durham: Nicky Whelan
Chloe Steele: Cassi Thomson
Irene Steele: Lea Thompson
Shasta Carvell: Jordin Sparks
Simon: Quinton Aaron
Melvin Weir: Martin Klebba
Kimmy: Stephanie Honore
Venice Baxter: Georgina Rawlings
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.