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Left Behind

D: Vic Armstrong / 110m

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, Cassi Thomson, Nicky Whelan, Jordin Sparks, Lea Thompson, Martin Klebba, Gary Grubbs, Alec Rayme, Georgina Rawlings

Rayford Steele (Cage) is a transatlantic pilot planning an affair with stewardess Hattie Durham (Whelan) when they reach London. Caught off guard by his daughter, Chloe (Thomson), coming to see him at the airport, he sidesteps her suspicions while at the same time reassuring her that his relationship with Chloe’s mother, Irene (Thompson) is all okay, and despite her recently becoming a Christian believer. Chloe goes home but has a dispute with her mother over her Christian beliefs, and she takes her younger brother to the mall. While there, he vanishes into thin air, leaving only his clothing behind. At the same time, on Rayford’s flight, all the children and some of the adults – including his co-pilot – disappear in the same way.

It soon becomes apparent that this is a worldwide event. In the air, a collision with another flight leaves Rayford’s fuel line damaged. He makes the decision to turn back to New York but with the radio down he can’t alert anyone. Meanwhile, Chloe discovers her mother has disappeared also, and her local pastor can only tell her it’s God’s will. Believing her father to be dead as well, she decides to kill herself. With the help of a passenger, journalist Buck Williams (Murray), Rayford manages to call Chloe on her mobile phone; he tells her he’s running out of fuel and needs to land as an emergency… but the airport’s aren’t an option.

Left Behind - scene

Yes folks, it’s the Rapture again, all tricked out with the barest of explanations and tagged onto an airplane disaster scenario that even Airplane! (1980) couldn’t spoof as well as Left Behind does. It’s absurdist stuff, chock-full of crushingly awful dialogue, wooden performances, absentee direction from famed stunt coordinator Armstrong, special effects that are one step up from those in a SyFy movie, and further proof (if any were needed) that Cage will commit to anything these days, no matter how bad it is.

To be fair, the movie’s first half hour isn’t so bad, as each character is introduced, and the basic premise is set up. But once Cage and co are in the air, it’s full speed ahead to Disasterville. When Chloe’s brother, and others, disappear at the mall, looting starts up right away (obviously this is a natural response to hundreds of people just vanishing). On the flight, one woman whose daughter has disappeared, pulls out a GUN and accuses the other passengers of being in cahoots with her ex-husband, who’s obviously trying to snatch her. And Chloe decides to climb to the top of a suspension bridge to kill herself – but really so that Buck’s mobile call will reach her (the networks are predictably scrambled). There are other faux pas made by Paul Lalonde and Jerry Patus’s dreadful script, and no attempt is made to justify any of them.

Rating: 2/10 – appalling stuff, and incredibly insulting to Christians (its target audience), Left Behind is a travesty of Biblical proportions; inept on pretty much every level, the prospect of two further movies to come will make viewers pray that a real Rapture comes around before they do.