LEFT BEHIND (2014)

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Director: Vic Armstrong
Writers: Paul Lalonde and John Patus
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, Cassi Thomson, Nicky Whelan, Lea Thompson, Jordin Sparks
Studio: eOne Entertainment

“Left Behind” is reason enough to stop shooting bigger scale movies in Louisiana. The Baton Rouge airport was supposed to pass for JFK, but that just wasn’t happening. Neither was the fact that every main cast member seemed to arrive there at the same time and everyone knew each other. Nicolas Cage plays a pilot that’s taking a red-eye flight to London, but that’s when things get crazy. People start vanishing, as the Judeo-Christian God says that it’s time for the Rapture. Well-meaning Muslims get left behind, the same as Preachers that stop believing in the Holy Word. You shouldn’t have flirted with a flight attendant, because Jesus saw that shit. Disrespect your bible thumping mother? God is going to toss a single engine Cessna on your ass.

Nicolas Cage is at the top of his Ray Milland in his later years game here. When he lands that plane with only the assistance of a pickup truck’s headlights, you believe that moment. Hell, I would’ve expected God to come down and “Stand” hand the plane safely to the ground. Roughly 25 minutes into this movie, all subjectivity goes out the window and this becomes the film equivalent of a Hell House. The creative talent wants you to believe in a world of absolutes and they want to spell out the behaviors that they want you to stop doing. Quit whoring around, quit it with the sass mouth, quit it with the false religions and believe in everything that was written in the Bible. If you question it, then you’ll be left alone on earth for giant dick stone demons to eat. Wait, that last part was from “This is The End”. A film which seemed like a documentary in comparison.

Christian entertainment is frightening. Not because the subject matter, the beliefs or the lack of editorial oversight. Mainly because the fanbase. Everyone has themselves in a tizzy over GamerGate, but they’re forgetting about the original gangsters of angrily shutting down dissent. For everyone espousing Compassionate Conservativism, Family Values and Christian Morals, this film is a quick pinch to remind you of what powers these people. They hate you without hating you. No matter what you’re doing, you’re not doing enough to appease them. While there are multiple aspects to Christianity, this film is only appealing to one giant portion of the faith. Believe without question or pay later.

The low budget and the weird shooting aesthetic helps to craft a mid 80s Cannon Films style look to the feature. I’m sure that wasn’t on purpose, but it helps with the Exploitation angle that will ultimately be hung on this film. While I know that I’m going to attract a great deal of derision from the same handful of critics that visit the site, let me say something. I’ll defend “The Passion of the Christ” to my last breath, because it was a lovingly crafted film by an Auteur. While Mel Gibson chose an aspect of Christianity that turned many off, he created a vision that won’t be forgotten. The same can’t be said for “Left Behind”.

“Left Behind” is the latest footprint of a cottage industry that attracted your grandparents in the 90s and now has taken a foothold in something far gross. Watch that news clip and try to keep from cringing. Sure, Willie Robertson eventually gets to the synopsis of the film, but the setup is a cultural bum rush. Then, it switches to a push for conversation. Sometimes, a film is just a film. Mel Gibson for all of his screwed up glory wasn’t making trailers to force people in Christianity. If they came, they came. The push to remove individual will does not make a happy religion.

Ultimately, that’s what I took away from this film when I was trying to figure out what it irked me so much. This movie is the film equivalent of a political ad that will never end. As someone who sees two politicians fighting it out every hour on the hour (TV, Radio and YouTube), I’m tired of these forceful endeavors. An audience is going to do what it wants, when it wants to do. It’s just that if my goal was converting people to a specific religion, I would’ve spent the money on getting some more talent. Which is sad because I liked Vic Armstrong’s last directing effort “Army of One”.

RELEASE DATE: 10/03/2014

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