Starring: Nicolas Cage, Lea Thompson, Cassi Thomson
Director: Vic Armstrong
Running Time: 110 mins
Left Behind is an American film about a group of survivors who find themselves left on Earth after millions disappear in an instant, with the consequences landing them in the middle of the chaos and destruction that could lead to the end of the world.
This film is terrible. Well, not quite Birdemic terrible, but that’s only because it’s got a bigger budget and slightly (only slightly) better acting. Otherwise, it’s a laughably ridiculous, endlessly tedious and infuriatingly preachy thriller that not only fails to instil any sense of fear or drama into proceedings, but also relies overwhelmingly on religious ideas that just don’t make sense in the context of the narrative here.
That’s the thing I have to talk about first of all, that the film is pretty much entirely a religious call to arms, as it presents the fate of those on Earth who do not believe in God, and how they deserve their unholy demise, even if they turn to the Lord in their hour of need.
Effectively, it’s a movie that dramatises the Rapture. Now, while I know next to nothing about the actual theology, the premise of the Rapture is actually a really fascinating one, and although there are arguments to say that it is indeed a rather mean-spirited story (I don’t want to get into the whole world of the intentions of religious scripture), watching a group of people as they see their entire world falling apart – knowing exactly what they could have done to prevent it from happening – is a riveting and potentially emotionally devastating story to tell.
Unfortunately, Left Behind doesn’t take the emotional route with things, and instead hits painfully heavily on Bible teachings and the idea that prayer will solve all, without any degree of genuine narrative depth or intricacy beyond Christian ideas.
Now, while it’s never been something I subscribe to myself, I’ve never had a problem with a film having a spiritual consciousness, and basing its story on the ideology of a religion (take classic examples like Au Hasard Balthazar, or even modern comedies like Spain’s Holy Camp!).
However, when it feels like you’re simply being read a passage from the Bible – and in rather aggressive fashion – there’s next to no dramatic intrigue, but rather a frustrating sense of preachiness that makes the entertainment or dramatic value of a story with genuine potential, as I mentioned above, completely vanish.
All of that is what makes Left Behind an annoying, boring and poorly-told story, but not only is it the story which makes the film so terrible, because despite having a decent budget and real actors, Left Behind still feels incredibly amateurish by Hollywood standards.
Of course, I’m not expecting Avengers-level action and special effects, but along with laughably bad CGI from time to time, as well as a cast that prove incredibly irritating with either whiney or simply ridiculous performances (Cage and Thomson in particular), Left Behind comes across as a really basic and poorly-made film, only compounding its badness more.
Overall, I pretty much hated Left Behind. It’s a dull, ridiculous and infuriatingly preachy film that not only over-relies on religious ideologies to tell its story, but also falls apart with poor filmmaking, acting and writing from beginning to end, and that’s why I’m giving it a 3.8.