DVD REVIEW: LEFT BEHIND / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: VIC ARMSTRONG / SCREENPLAY: PAUL LALONDE, JOHN PATUS / STARRING: NICOLAS CAGE, CHAD MICHAEL MURRAY, LEA THOMPSON, JORDIN SPARKS , CASSI THOMSON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
A small group of survivors are left behind after millions of people suddenly vanish and the world is plunged into chaos and destruction. At least that’s the tagline from IMDB for this Cage-led take on the en-vogue subject of the rapture. What actually happens is this:
Having returned home to celebrate her father, Rayford Steele’s (Cage) birthday, Chloe (Thomson) instead finds a shattered family. Her mother (Thompson) has found God leaving her airline pilot husband to take to the skies sans wedding ring. While Chloe does her best to put the pieces back together at home, Ray flies to London with his dizzy blonde stewardess in tow. Then (eventually) people vanish in the blink of an eye. Despite having seen her younger brother disappear, leaving just his clothes behind, Chloe spends the rest of the movie running around calling his name while Ray pilots his onboard stereotypes (including the Muslim and pre-requisite racist) home with a broken wing and low fuel.
If the concept sounds familiar it’s because you’ve no-doubt heard of The Leftovers, the acclaimed HBO show in which this particular brand of the rapture leaves a small-town community struggling to come to terms with it years on. There’s no plagiarism – both this film and the TV series come from different novels (and Left Behind was published first) – but despite their similar origins, there is an ocean of difference between them. Where HBO’s series actually dealt with the impact of the phenomenon, Left Behind simply uses it to create a 70’s style disaster movie. And that’s not the only element of this that feels dated thanks to Jack Lenz’s terrible score which sounds like something straight out of a John Hughes movie (sax and all).
Sadly, Nic Cage has leant his name to no shortage of terrible movies in recent years, but they usually at least feel as if he’s having fun in the role. Here, Cage sleepwalks through a film that in no way deserves his presence. From the cookie-cutter plot to the two-dimensional characters and ham-fisted drama, Left Behind is proof that there’s more to creating a worthy adaptation to a best selling novel than just sticking a well-known star front and centre and hoping all the other problems will just go away.