Nicolas Cage isn’t the box office powerhouse that he once was. He’s become more of a punchline in recent years, the whipping boy for film fans who now worship at the feet of spandex clad demigods. Cage may have made some erratic choices over the years, but he’s always carved-out his own, unconventional path. Personally, I’d rather watch any of the Oscar-winning actor’s more recent movies than many of the huge action spectacles littering multiplexes. Some of these movies may not be great, but at least he’s not regurgitating the same character over and over again for a payday.
It’s not that Cage doesn’t deliver in the acting stakes, it’s just that the films he’s working on aren’t the calibre he deserves. That’s not his fault. It’s tough getting financing for mid-range budget films these days and that means they can suffer when it comes to securing behind the scenes talent and supporting actors. Which brings us to Left Behind.
Left Behind takes place during a religious rapture, when God plucks the true believers from the earth, taking them to heaven. That’s great for those who have gone to sit at the right hand of the almighty, but not so good for those Left Behind. Planes drop from the sky, cars crash and an assorted variety of other end of days events happen as Nicolas Cage’s pilot, Rayford Steele attempts to land a transatlantic passenger plane.
The last time Nicolas Cage was involved in airborne shenanigans was in 1996’s Con Air, but sadly Left Behind can’t match that film’s so-bad-it’s-good style. Director Vic Armstrong’s film just doesn’t have the budget or scope to showcase the end of the world in all its devilish glory. The $16 million budget just doesn’t go far enough and Cage is lumbered by TV-level supporting cast (Lea Thompson, Chad Micheal Murray and Cassi Thomson) and poor special effects. Everything comes across as cheap. While we’re handing out blame, I’ll also point in the direction of screenwriters Paul LaLonde and John Patus and the score by Jack Lenz is also particularly appalling.
If you think I’m jumping on the Left Behind hate-bandwagon, please be aware that I think Vic Armstrong is a lovely guy (I’ve interviewed him) and a great stunt coordinator. I’m also a great admirer of Lenz’s fantastic musical work in the 1990s series Due South. I truly wanted this to succeed.
Sometimes movies just shouldn’t be made if the right elements aren’t there (this is the second attempt at Left Behind, the first being a 2000 film with Kirk Cameron) and Left Behind might have a star in Nicolas Cage, but that’s all it has in the positive column. Christian themed movies have a certain amount of cache at the box office these days, but that doesn’t mean that making a bad movie with a religious message is a noble endeavour. Not only is this a shame – it’s a sin.