The movie Left Behind is, ironically, far behind when it comes down to the most basic artistic and technical components of cinema.
The film is a remake of 2000’s Left Behind: The Movie—a Christian flick with pretty much the same name—and is more broadly based on the Left Behind book series. The Nicolas Cage film revolves around the Rapture: the Biblical event wherein God is said to bring all believers to heaven and leave behind a world of war and evil. The female protagonist, Chloe Steele (Cassi Thomson) must deal not only with the disappearing of millions of people, but also with family troubles—spurred by her mother’s recent passion for religion and the family’s lack of willingness to join in. The male protagonist, Rayford Steele (Nicolas Cage), faces an emergency situation. He is a pilot, and the fate of his passengers depends on him as he is flying a plane during the Rapture. The movie is plagued with anti-climactic moments and clearly lacks a plot. It attempts to insert a love story and build up suspense at times, but it fails.
A combination of poor acting, outdated visual effects, the absence of a plot, a non-existent conclusion, and dull writing pairs with awkward, poorly read lines and sloppy transitions—leaving watchers to ask, “Why did I just watch this?”
The supporting cast is simply horrid. The actors’ uncomfortable, almost frightened voices lack any synergy—leaving audiences in a state of embarrassment and discomfort. The whole ordeal is noticeably fake. The child actors in the movie are particularly weak, and they appear to lack a basic understanding of how to act, failing to realistically convey emotion—or at the very least, make appropriate expressions and looks responsively at the camera.
The performances of several of the films leads—Cage, Chad Michael Murray as Cameron “Buck” Williams, Thomson, Jordin Sparks as Shasta Carvell, and Nicky Whelan as Hattie Durham—are to some extent decent, with a couple better than others. Overall, though, the acting is terrible, and it does not reflect the potential or skill of its relatively well-known cast.
The visuals are quite disappointing. Not only are the animated scenes noticeably very animated and lack any sense of realism, the action—if one could call it action—also lacks impact. In addition to the seemingly low-budget visuals, the transitions between scenes are out of place, leaving a sense of confusion.
Probably the worst features of the movie, though, are its undefined plot and weak screenplay. The movie lacks even the beginnings of a plotline, and as a whole, it is little more than a pointless sequence of scenes, masquerading as a feature length film. After two hours of Cage, you deserve at least to be able to recognize the movie’s intended purpose or get some semblance of a story—but this movie does not even seem to understand what a movie is supposed to be. Furthermore, many scenes in Left Behind have altogether no purpose—making the film drag on a rough two hours when it could have been finished (with equal or better quality) in one. In addition to the shortcomings of the plot, the script is cliched and ignorant to the central tenets of Christian belief—stereotyping believers and robbing many of its characters of dimension.
The particularly sad thing about this movie, though, is that it fits into no category of cinema. It attempts to be a suspenseful action flick at times, but it is neither suspenseful nor full of action. It also attempts to be a tragedy with mildly better results. It is not action, mystery, romance, or adventure—so what exactly is it? Nothing.
Although the movie has many negatives, there are some glimmers of light in the film. It has a few decent performances, as well as some touching scenes (however basic they may be). There also are a couple of lines that are quite funny. It is safe to say that more laughter is initiated by how awkward and simply bad the acting is, however—lines that are actually intended as jokes are few and far between.
Left Behind is disappointing, but not to the point where you would demand your money back. Maybe 80 percent of it, though.