Nicolas Cage’s Bible movie is horrible
Left behind, the highly anticipated Doomsday movie, is exactly what you think it is: a Christian film starring Nicolas Cage. That the Oscar winner and star of National treasure, Leaving Las Vegas, and The Croods playing the lead role in a movie with obvious motivations for evangelizing becomes very clear from the start, and that fact is born again and again (and again) for almost two hours.
In the midst of this cinematic feature film about strangers who find themselves having to be together following an event in which millions of people go missing around the world, it’s impossible to forget that Left behind is a Christian film starring Nicolas Cage. Why? Because the strategically placed Bibles, the awkward and forced theological debates, the not-so-subtle Christian messages, the unrealistic religious tension, and Nicolas Cage are always there to remind us that we are watching a movie made by evangelicals for evangelical purposes. Ooh, and look, there’s Nicolas Cage.
But Cage’s overt Christian messages and ubiquity are not the only reasons why Left behind is a horrible movie. And yes, it is indeed terrible-horrible, a less interesting and more convoluted version of the original. Left behind. Yes, this “apocalyptic thriller” directed by Vic Armstrong is Left behindis the second coming to the big screen. Those who hope that this Left behind is a beefed-up, more sophisticated and action-packed (maybe better?) version
While some of the special effects are a bit more grandiose than the outdated effects that occur around Kirk Cameron’s head in his Left behind, apart from the names of the characters and a few recognizable but modified plots, this remake bears little resemblance to its predecessor. Which is a real shame, really, because the original Left behind, while not a good movie, at least included something of an actual story. Yes, it was awful. But compared to 2014 Left behind, it’s an epic.
In this new Left behind, the prophetic tale first told in the novel by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, also called Left behind, is anything but missing. Although the screenplays for the original and its resurgent successor were written by the same duo, Paul LaLonde and John Patus, and both focus on what happens to a small group of people after the return of Jesus Christ, Fans of the book and of the dispensational theology it is based on will likely find little more than its proselytizing mission to celebrate in Armstrong’s new tale.
But the real apocalypse of this new Left behind– what makes it so much worse than that bad original – is that it’s a soulless Christian movie starring Nicolas Cage. Which is ironic, since the idea of ”the soul” is so integral to Christianity and Christianity is so integral to Left behind.
And although the theology of Left behind is strange and incredible, it could also, in the right hands, inspire a hell of a story. But that’s what’s missing here; this so-called apocalyptic thriller is void of history—Left behind is about as close to being without history as you can get it before being called static.
Even in the places where a story evolves, it’s so stereotypical, so old-fashioned, so embarrassing that there’s no real reason to care, or even to believe that the characters we meet. Left behind are in fact human and encounter a life changing event, let alone something that is said to be about to change everything they know to be true about the world. Filmmakers are too busy using their characters as megaphones to tell us what they believe to be true, that Jesus’ return is imminent, and that you better be prepared.
There is always a message, rarely a story.
During the first 32 minutes of Left behind, the message is: Christians are crazy jobs. This is the mantra we hear when we meet Rayford Steele (Nicolas Cage). Steele is a husband, father of two, and airline pilot who has an affair with a flight attendant because his wife is cheating on him with – wait – Jesus.
Yes, Jesus. Apparently, after converting to evangelical Christianity, Irene Steele (Lea Thompson) became the kind of biblical slugger who would make Rick Santorum blush, and her constant attempts to get Rayford to trust Jesus have strained their relationship. But Irene must be annoying because even her daughter, Chloe (Cassi Thomson), a sophomore in college, can’t stand being with her.
That’s why Rayford volunteered to work on his birthday, because his wife is in love with Jesus but also because he wants to meet in London at a U2 concert (yes, a U2 concert) with her lover, Hattie Durham (Nicky Whelan), a beautiful blonde much younger than Steele, and so naive that she is completely unaware that the object of her affection is in her fifties and married with children.
All that family drama comes to a head at a JFK food court. Not only are Rayford and Hattie at the airport, but Chloe (Ray’s daughter) is there too! Just arriving by plane from college, she comes home for a surprise party for her father. Upon learning that he is now working, Chloe considers confronting him at the door before he gets on his flight. While she was waiting, Chloe overheard an outspoken Christian woman (she had just bought a book called Acts of god at the airport bookstore moments before) passionately proclaiming his end-time doctrines on God to Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray), a well-known news anchor and author.
Once again, the message rings clear: Christians are completely crazy to believe in the rapture. As the Christian lady quotes bible verses to Buck, an irritated Chloe launches into the conversation and throws her anti-God opinion to the lady. Buck falls in love with Chloe’s fiery and ungodly ways and, as they await her father’s arrival, the two engage in another cliché conversation about how nuts Christians are (Chloe even calls her mother a ” crazy work “, as if it were a new term) and there, during a four-minute conversation, the chemistry between Chloe and Buck intensifies. Next, Chloe and her dad have a heart to heart about how “mum is crazy about the Christian” and then Rayford gets on the plane. Buck, who also flies to London, kisses Chloe before getting on the plane.
The message about Christian insanity is repeated multiple times, once when Chloe and her mother argue about God and religion, forcing Chloe, along with her brother, to go to the mall.
But then at minute 33 like Rayford, Hattie, Buck, and like 14 stereotypes (among them an angry little person, a selfish middle-aged businessman, a devout Muslim and American IdolJordin Sparks stars as an angry paranoid rich mother who managed to slip a gun on the plane) fly to London and Chloe and her little brother are shopping at the mall, Jesus is coming back and all the hell is rising.
Although most Christians who adhere to Rapture theology believe that the Rapture of Jesus happens in the blink of an eye, Left behindRapture happens much slower, sometimes in slow motion. I swear, Jesus returned for at least 15 minutes, taking the world’s born again population (most of whom were Americans living in the New York City area) and all children 12 and under to heaven. Jesus also made a huge mess, leaving piles of lifeless clothes everywhere.
Chloe was hugging her little brother when Jesus snatched him from his arms, leaving her all alone kissing his empty shirt, pants, underwear and hat. The effects of the Rapture seemed to last forever, and the damage was ungodly: plane, car, bus and looting crashes – my God, there are a lot of people looting. Left behind. Poor Chloe seems to be there for every calamity. No, she really is; she walks away from the cars, passes the planes, avoids the falling buses. His backpack is even stolen by someone on a motorcycle. Honestly, it was as if the return of Jesus, besides being a rescue operation for Christians and children, was also a personal vendetta against poor Chloe.
After the scene of the Rapture, Left behindmessage instantly changed from Christians are crazy jobs To Oops, those crazy jobs were right. In the same convoluted and incredible way that the first post was delivered, the second post is flapped over our heads for left behind 70 minutes left – with stereotypical conversations, absurd events and stereotypical characterization. And just when you think it can’t get any worse, the muslim on the plane is supposed to be a terrorist or the selfish middle-aged businessman realizes that his love for money is the real thing. ruined and he finds out that God or Jordin Sparks goes mad and pulls a handgun out of his carry-on baggage and threatens to kill everyone on the plane.
Hell, in the end, even Nicolas Cage is a staunch supporter of theologies of Left behind and ready to surrender his life to Jesus. What about Buck and Chloe? Well, everyone agrees they are in love. But not before Chloe climbs to the top of New York’s tallest bridge in an attempt to kill herself. After raising her hands to the sky and shouting forgiveness to her mother, and just before Chloe jumps, her cell phone rings. Buck is on a plane preparing to crash into New York.
Signal Nicolas Cage to land on a plane.
In the end, just like all those empty clothes left behind by Jesus’ return, Left behind is a lifeless film, devoid of all that is human, divine or authentic, just a terrible Christian film with Nicolas Cage.