When i set myself this challenge I expected it to be bad.. but nothing could prepare me for Left Behind
*I’m just sobbing looking at this promotional pic above… i’ll give you a hint… the film isn’t much better*
(110 Mins, Rated PG) (spoilers ahead)
I’m going to start this review by saying this is definitely in my top ten worst films of all time. I’ve stared at pigeons in the street pecking at a half eaten McChicken sandwich and been more entertained. I’ve accidently rubbed my eye after handling a jalepeno and learned more about my life than i did watching this film. You must understand this is a bad film, and not even The Room bad.
We start with a daughter coming home to see her parents, Irene (Jesus loving mom (Lea Thompson who should know better) and philandering father Rayford (!?!) (Nicolas Cage, who should also know better but is a rogue operator at the best of times)) for her father’s birthday but finds her dad has buggered off to work instead. So she skulks around the airport and meets ‘handsome’ reporter (Chad Michael Murray doing what he does best, standing there trying to act), shoots the shit a bit, and then he gets on the plane her father is piloting.
Then there is a flash of light, people and children disappear and everyone starts to scream, school buses fall dramatically but not dramatically off bridges, evil bearded men loot shops and bags, a random light aircraft plummets into our heroine’s car for no apparent reason apart from to set up further random and mildly pointless encounters as she walks about, and some British woman in sunglasses takes some toot in the airplane toilet because that makes everything better. Our intelligence is also insulted with some unsubtle foreshadowing where Chloe passes a ‘ROAD CLOSED AHEAD’ sign and the camera lingers, showing us that this is where the film is going to end and being really bloody obvious about it.
We are aggressively battered over the head early with character’s motives in some ridiculous scenes like mother and daughter having an argument over God over some homemade lemonade, argument in the airport between Chloe and the crazy God lady with an intense Elton John eyebrow. Basically the first half an hour of this film is a series of arguments punctuated with walking and driving, and unfortunately, because this film was seemingly written by a malfunctioning computer programme, none of these ‘set-up’ scenes actually work in any way, shape or form.
Let’s also just acknowledge the utter shit that is the dialogue. It’s all clunky as a pair of cardboard box bollocks. There’s lots of meaningful breathy delivery, quivering tears in their eyes, some ludicrous scenes that defy belief like the Defence department guy who just tells some random bloke about his work at the Defence department in the middle of the plane where pretty much everyone can hear them. None of it feels fresh, everything feels staid, like the screenwriter has thumbed through a book of a 1000 film filler lines and thought they’d all do.
According to this film children are all so pure as they all get taken up by our Lord. So apparently we should be like children, innocent and non-judgemental. Maybe the Lord can overlook the other things like shitting our pants, eating worms and insects, stealing homework and screaming wildly in restaurants because our chicken nuggets had a little too much of a kick to them.
A particular note must be made about the music/soundtrack because it is spectacularly bad. Plinky plonk piano, MOR guitar strumming, punctuated by pointless chirpy saxophone which adds nothing but an irritating whine in your ears to compliment the utter faeces on screen. Luckily someone seems to turn the volume down after about 45 minutes so we can all just concentrate on being visually assaulted.
Performance wise there is very little to get excited about. Cage is flat, uninspired, and this is definitely a tax job. He spends most of the running time looking like a constipated shrew trying to keep a check on his loose sphincter. There might as well have been a Nicolas Cage cut out moved amongst scenes. His hair should really get its own credit however. It’s a delicately mussed bouffant and clearly doused in some Grecian 2000, maybe a couple of hair plugs for good measure, and steals most scenes that it’s viewable in. Chad Michael Murray spends his time mildly squinting like he has some sort of eye infection, like a camel wandering through the desert without eyelashes. He’s the cynical reporter who is caught up in the midst of the action on the plane and seems to be the only one able to keep his shit together but on the whole his character is actually pretty useless. His one helpful piece of dialogue being ‘I need you to open the Compass app,’ and even then, what the fuck.
Cassi Thomson as Chloe probably gets the most to do. She’s alright, she’s definitely not as terrible as Cage and adds a bit more nuance than Michael Murray but her character is taken straight from the ‘college girl hero’ trope book, rebellious against her mother’s current jesus lovey-dovey-ness, good looking and spunky, can seemingly do everything (drive car, ride and motorbike, drive a steam roller ?!??), and there is never any chance of her dying or failing at any point and so all sense of suspense is lost.
Everything in this film is unconvincing, from the acting to the script to the visual effects. In most of Cage’s garbage films there are glimpses of something remotely decent, but he doesn’t even have the decency to yell a bit and go all googly eyed. There was scope here for a bit of humour or something a little more self aware, but Left Behind is done with such sincerity and is so po-faced in its execution that it becomes unbearable. There are more redeeming features in the Asda ‘Whoops!’ section than there are on display in this film so it is no surprise in the slightest that this is the worst rated Nicolas Cage of all time so far.
IMDB rating – 3.1
My rating – ☆☆☆☆☆ (it doesn’t even deserve a half. I felt my last vestiges of joy leave my body around 35 minutes in)