|Chloe (played by Cassi Thomson) is left with unanswered questions as her mother and brother, along with millions of people around the world, vanish without a trace.|
Director: Vic Armstrong.
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, Cassi Thomson, Major Dodson, Lea Thompson, Jordin Sparks, Nicky Whelan, Lolo Jones, Lance E Nichols and Martin Klebba.
Rating: *** (out of 5 stars).
Length: 111 minutes.
Opening: Now playing.
Plot: College student Chloe Steele (played by Thomson) returns home for a short holiday to surprise her pilot father Rayford (Cage), only to learn that he was unexpectedly called in to work. Disappointed, she catches up with him before he boards the plane and prepares to make her way home to her waiting mother Irene (Thompson) and younger brother Raymie (Dodson). At the airport, she meets Cameron “Buck” Williams (Murray) — a well-known investigative reporter — and the pair, both disbelievers, strike up a conversation about God. Before Buck boards his flight — which is coincidently is captained by Rayford — they say their goodbyes and part ways. A few hours into the flight, dozens of passengers — mainly children — mysteriously vanish. Similarly, back at home, Chloe is horrified when Raymie and her mother suddenly disappear, leaving no traces behind. The characters learn that it is not only in New York and on the plane, but all around the world, people are inexplicably disappearing and the strange phenomenon is ultimately attributed to a biblical event known as the Rapture.
LET it be known that first and foremost, there is nothing creepy or scary about Left Behind. The film may have a mysterious theme, some suspense, but its execution sidesteps a potentially debate-inducing or even controversial film by distracting us by being cheesy, and with bad acting and editing.
Made famous by the 12 bestselling novels of the same name by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B Jenkins, Left Behind is essentially a modern-day story about the existence of God. Cage plays the protagonist, a husband with a wandering eye who is exasperated by the beliefs of his born-again Christian wife Irene. Though Irene is a staunch Christian, both her husband and daughter are adamant that there is no God. Throughout her growing-up years, Chloe blames the breakdown of her family and her parents’ relationship on her mother’s Christian beliefs.
A few newbies to Hollywood make guests appearances in the movie. They include American Idol Jordin Sparks and Olympian Lolo Jones. It is interesting to see some of the minor roles played by recognisable faces but that’s as interesting as the movie gets.
The Rapture — a Christian belief that essentially means that shortly before the end of the world, all the born-again Christians true to Christ will be snatched up to heaven without notice, following which the earth will enter a period of intense suffering — is the storyline that is at the centre of movie. Even though it is an interesting and debatable topic, it is only halfway through the film that the Rapture is mentioned and discussed, hence if you’re looking to gain knowledge on the topic, it is probably nothing you haven’t already heard.
As expected, a romance blooms between Buck and Chloe. Former TV series One Tree Hill heartthrob Murray plays the cardboard cut-out hero Buck who is intelligent and dedicated, but otherwise a bland depthless character, making it mandatory for him to fall deeply infatuated with Chloe, though we are left to imagine the parts where sparks are supposed to fly.
It seems like Cage has run his course in Hollywood with Left Behind, as this would not be the first of his films that have been box office flops, following the poor reception of some of his previous movies such as Outcast (released just last week) and The Frozen Ground.
Like most movies derived from a bestselling novel, it will perhaps never be as good or as in-depth as the book — even if you’ve never read the book — and it is no surprise that the flick’s ending is disappointing, with many questions being left unanswered.
Left Behind will be enticing perhaps if you’re a diehard fan of Cage or Murray.
|Captain Rayford and air stewardess Hattie must figure out a way to safely land the plane after passengers keep disappearing.|
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 16, 2014.