Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nicolas Cage, Lea Thompson, Chad Michael Murray, Nicky Whelan, Cassi Thomson, Quinton Aaron, Jordin Sparks, Martin Klebba, William Ragsdale, Stephanie Honore, Lolo Jones, Gary Grubbs
Written by: Paul Lalonde, John Patus, based on a novel by Jerry B. Jenkins, Tim LaHaye
Directed by: Vic Armstrong
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some thematic elements, violence/peril and brief drug content
Running Time: 110
Date: 10/03/2014

Left Behind (2014)

1/2 Star (out of 4)

Ye of Little Faith

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed, oddly, by legendary stuntman Vic Armstrong, Left Behind is a bigger-budget reboot of the faith-based indie hit from 2000, taken from a series of novels. Everything is based around the simultaneous fear of -- and desire for -- The Rapture. The crucial flaw in the movie is that the filmmakers wish to create sympathetic characters out of those who were deemed sinners and thus not delivered to God. Viewers are supposed to like them, but not want to be like them (even though they all fly first class).

Chloe Steele (Cassi Thomson) hasn't been home to visit from college in a while because her mom (Lea Thompson) has found religion and things are awkward. She comes home for her dad's birthday, but her dad Ray (Nicolas Cage), an airline pilot, has agreed to fly to London. Chloe finds him at the airport, and fears that he is having an affair with a pretty flight attendant (Nicky Whelan). She also meets a star TV reporter, Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray), who is on her father's flight, and who lends a sympathetic ear. Unfortunately millions of people, including all children, suddenly disappear, sending the world into a panic. Chloe tries to find her brother and her mom, while Ray must single-handedly get his aircraft safely to the ground.

Aside from its initial, faulty conceit, the movie, on a pure thriller level, is a massive collection of poorly-written, awkward character moments, and supposedly spectacular set-pieces that are stretched way too thin. The big moment is over in just a few seconds, and the rest is all bad disaster film. Certainly there are profound, spiritual movies in the world, and movies that could enhance one's faith, but Left Behind preaches only to the converted.

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