Granger on Movies: 'Left Behind'
Published 8:10 pm, Sunday, October 19, 2014
Adapted by Paul Lalonde and John Patus, this is yet another incarnation of the prophetic narrative introduced in the first best-selling novel by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. The plot revolves around what happens to a small group of people following what Christians call the Rapture.
As it begins, Chloe (Cassi Thomson) has returned home from college for the weekend to celebrate the birthday of her pilot dad, Rayford Steele (Nicolas Cage). But then Steele gets a last-minute assignment to take an overnight flight from New York to London. At least, that's what he tells his wife Irene (Lea Thompson), who has become a Bible-toting, fundamentalist Christian. His real plans include a tryst with a sexy, blonde flight attendant, Hattie Durham (Nicky Whelan), and to that end he's snagged U2 concert tickets. Pandemonium ensures when in the air and on the ground, people start disappearing. It's the Rapture, fulfilling the Biblical prophecy that the righteous will ascend into heaven, while unbelievers are left behind.
Veteran stuntman-turned-director Vic Armstrong hasn't a clue how to sustain tension between the airplane in the skies crossing the Atlantic and the chaos on Earth. Instead of pacing, he uses cliched scares, like loud noises and characters or objects jumping out for no apparent reason. There's an overabundance of expository dialogue in which almost every character explains who they are and their background. Yet Armstrong and his writers never delve into the provocative psychological tension that arises in a marriage when one spouse undergoes a religious conversion and the other is still in doubt. But, perhaps, that's not surprising, since "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson executive produced.
Insofar as the acting, it's abominable. None of the actors make their characters either empathetic or convincing. As a result, their frantic dilemma becomes more and more ludicrous. The same miraculous concept is handled more adroitly on HBO's sci-fi series "The Leftovers" without the heavy-handed evangelical Christian propaganda.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Left Behind" is a 1 -- one of the year's worst. Faith-driven audiences deserve better.
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