The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

Feeling a little concerned about the latest bombings, tsunamis, earthquakes, as well as the starvation of countless people? For most people, this stuff is nothing new, but if you’ve come to believe we’re on the cusp of the Second Coming, then Left Behind (2014) might be right up your alley. This Vic Armstrong film based on the novels by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye is all about what happens when you don’t believe in Jesus when Judgment Day arrives.

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The film begins, like oh so many apocalyptic tales do, at an airport. Chloe (Cassi Thomson), a college student, has just flown in to her see her dad Rayford (Nicolas Cage) for his birthday. However, after a conversation with her mother (Lea Thompson), she finds out that her dad won’t actually be in town for her visit because he’s piloting a flight to London.

A little frustrated, she decides to stay put and wait for her dad to show up to work. While waiting, she overhears a woman harassing a man about the recent earthquakes around the world and how they’re clearly a sign of the end times. After Chloe confronts the woman, she realizes the man is Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray), a famous journalist.

The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

Chloe tells the Christian woman where to stick it, and she and Buck hit it off soon after. So they stop to chat while Chloe waits for her father. Before long, Dad turns up, but is busted flirting with a stewardess. Buck makes himself scarce so the two can talk, and they reveal their mutual distaste for how Chloe’s mother has become a born again Christian.

The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

Chloe tells her dad she understands his desire to not be a part of the family, but Rayford defends his loyalty to his wife. He apologizes for not being able to stay due to a sudden shift change, but moments later, a coworker passes on tickets that prove he’s planned this getaway for weeks. Heartbroken, Chloe passes on the tickets to Buck and heads home.

When she arrives there, her brother is happy to see her, as is her mom. However, it doesn’t take long for the two of them to get off on the wrong foot. After a heated discussion about religion, Chloe and her brother leave for the mall.

The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

She and her brother seem to be a having a good time, in a scene that feels like it comes straight out of a 1950s sitcom, when suddenly, in mid-hug, the boy disappears, leaving behind his empty clothes. She looks around panicked, and sees many other people have vanished in the same way, with their empty clothes now laying in piles. Mere seconds pass before people begin looting and causing all kinds of shenanigans.

The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

Meanwhile, on Ray’s flight, some of the passengers (including all of the children) have also disappeared. People panic and try to break into the cockpit because, obviously, the pilot has all the answers. Shy of one copilot and down to one stewardess, Rayford decides to take the plane to a higher altitude, forcing everyone to take their seats and put on their oxygen masks.

Once calm is restored, Rayford gets on the radio and tries desperately to get ahold of anyone that can explain what’s happening. However, before he can make any sense of the situation, another plane enters their flight path. He manages to narrowly avoid a collision, but when he radios in for help about the crash and no one answers, he realizes there’s no hope.

The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

Back at home, Chloe begins to search desperately for her brother. She breaks into a hospital to see if he’s somehow managed to end up here. In the maternity ward, she bumps into a mother who’s just given birth, and she explains that her baby, as well as all the other children in the hospital are gone.

The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

Chloe heads home to see if she can find her mother, but only finds her crucifix necklace in the shower. It’s then that it dawns on her that this probably is the Second Coming. She rushes to a church and talks to a pastor who oddly admits to not having faith until just now, as he sees that the Rapture has occurred. He tells her it’s time to accept the faith, but she storms off.

In the air, Rayford enlists the help of Buck to figure out what’s wrong with the plane. Buck goes to the back of the plane and takes a photo, which reveals a damaged wing and a large amount of leaking fuel. Finally, Rayford gets through to the airport, but is informed there’s no place to land. As Rayford tries to figure out how he’s going to save the people on the flight with very little fuel left, Buck manages to reach Chloe on his cell phone.

The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

When Chloe gets the call, she’s about to jump off a bridge to her death, believing that everyone in her family is dead. Rayford tells her that he’s alive, but he’s not going to make it because there’s nowhere to land. So Chloe jumps into action, and begins to clear off a highway that’s under construction to give him somewhere to land.

After a lot of struggle and a big fire, Rayford is able to land the plane on the highway and get all the passengers off safely. Rayford and Chloe are reunited, but are uncertain of where the future will lead them.

The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

If you missed out on the ‘90s Christian-lit craze, then you may not know this is the first book in a series that’s all about the Second Coming and what happens to all the sinners who get, well, left behind. Thus, this is why the film leaves off with no conclusion at all. Of course, with a couple of other film variations of the series already made, the director probably should have had a clue that this probably wouldn’t be enough of a success to justify the rest of the series being remade. All the same, it is what it is, and it’s nothing too grand.

The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

When the movie began, I was sincerely hoping that the dialogue would improve as it went along. Instead, it seemed to get progressively cheesier as the characters slipped into their obviously stereotypical roles. Like a lot of Christian films of late, the people who aren’t Christian are often portrayed as angry sinners who basically deserve the hell they’re going to. Sadly, I couldn’t help but root for the devastating seven-year period to be over as it would end the poor dialogue that somehow managed to make it onto the big screen.

The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

This film really did nothing but confirm the fact that Nicolas Cage doesn’t really care anymore. He’ll take just about any part to pay off his huge debts, and do absolutely nothing with the role. It’s a little sad to see, but I guess that’s the way it goes when you’ve spent thousands of dollars on useless crap like a stolen dinosaur skull.

Of course, Cage is not the only one to blame for the disastrous acting here. No one else seemed to fit the bill either. With a cast consisting of mostly B-list talent that seemed to be plucked from TV series aimed at teenie boppers, it’s no wonder this movie was a huge flop.

The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

So, with bad acting and a poor dialogue running rampant, one would at least hope there were some special effects worth mentioning. Sorry, that’s another negative. The special effects were barely up to par with the (much lower budgeted) Kirk Cameron version of the film.

The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

But then of course, we have to get down to the whole religious aspect of the film. Throughout the movie, it feels as if the writers and director were trying to justify the whole concept of the Rapture. The people who disappear are all worthy, not because they’re good people, but because they had faith in a specific religion. A Muslim passenger on the plane, who actually is nice, is left behind. So is an elderly woman who, it’s quite obvious, has no clue who or where she is half the time. They even make it a point to show that animals are left behind. It’s pretty sick to see how self-absorbed the whole thing is.

The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

Last but not least, there are some major inconsistencies going on in the story, primarily surrounding the several near-death experiences Chloe has after the rapture. Sure, the first accident where a car comes barreling into the mall is pretty much believable. However, the moment she tries to get in her car, a small private plane crashes right next to her. Then, a lot later on, she’s walking along and her brother’s backpack is stolen by a bunch of non-Christian hooligans on motorcycles, just before a school bus barrels off an overpass. So, if she had time to walk all that way, why is the school bus just now running off the road? If everyone was taken at the same time, shouldn’t that bus have crashed around the time the driver disappeared? Of course, she has a couple more encounters just like this before she tries to off herself, which only reinforces how absurd the film really is.

The Left Behind remake is as God-awful as the original

So, if you want to watch an apocalyptic movie that takes place mostly on an airplane… I’d recommend you pick something else. If you’re looking for a nice Christian film or something to make you feel good about your faith, I’d still recommend something else. Left Behind is nothing more than 110 minutes of losing faith in the film industry. On the upside, there is one lesson that might come in handy someday. That is, if you walk onto a plane with 12+ babies on it, then you may want to rebook your flight.

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  • seiler88

    There is one thing that you should have mentioned: Most Christians (myself included) DON’T believe int he rapture.

    • Gallen Dugall

      Yep, the ravings of a monk that were included to provide a stick to the carrot of God’s love.
      I have a number of friends who won’t talk to me any more for pointing out that “literal truth” is a modern concept of the post printing press age, and that Jesus talked mainly in allegory.

  • 333, the Semi-Christ

    I’m a Christian. I’m pretty fundamentalist. I honestly don’t know if I buy into the Rapture thing or not. But one thing I do know is that the Left Behind series comprises some of the worst books of the last 20 or 30 years. God (no pun intended), what garbage. But, and it pains me to say this, almost everything marketed to Christains is garbage. The books, music, films, everything. They buy it because they want something that patronizes their- *our* beliefs. It’s a garanteed market that requires no attempt at quality even by the standards of an entertainment industry that rarely involves any quality- the bottom of the barrel.

    • Hayde Christiansson

      Well said

    • The_Stig

      You ever notice that contemporary Christian music is always at least five years behind the current musical trends?

      • 333 SC

        That’s probably being generous… most Praise and Worship has never moved past U2’s Joshua Tree. Although Christian Death Metal (yep, it’s a thing) is pretty hip. (DIE!!! DIE!!! DIE TO THE SPIRIT!!!)

  • GreenLuthor

    To be honest, I’ve never quite understood what the appeal of a movie/series like this is supposed to be. If the Rapture is supposed to take all the good people of faith… then isn’t everyone who’s “left behind”, by definition, godless heathen sinners? Why would a Christian propaganda film be centered around the sinners, especially if they’re not going to be shown as horrible people? (Or, if they were to be shown as horrible people, why would a Christian audience *want* to watch a movie about them?) I just don’t understand why anyone is supposed to want to see a movie like this…

    On the other hand, the posters for this one are great. Every single one I’ve seen looks like Nicolas Cage is pondering the life choices that got him to the point where he’s appearing in this movie, and failing to come up with any kind of answer. You can just see him thinking “Wow, this is a bigger piece of crap than “The Wicker Man”. I have an Oscar, how did I end up this way?” And if those are the shots that ended up in the poster, think of how he must have looked in the ones they *didn’t* use…

    • 333 SC

      The people left behind still have a chance to be redeemed, so that’s the point of it all. But they have to eat a really big shit sandwich first.

      • GreenLuthor

        Ah, okay, that makes a bit more sense. (Catholic family; never really paid much attention to Rapture lore.)

      • Cameron Vale

        I thought that people were raptured because they had faith? Now I’m confused.

        • 333, SC

          They are, but the people left behind can either be total non-believers or people that had been believers that lost their faith (like Rayford is if memory serves.) When the rapture occurs a lot of people will go, oh snap, that crap was all real, yo!!!- and come back to faith. Anyone that comes to faith (or back to faith) during this time can all still be saved, but they have to go through the tribulation and wait for Jesus to come back.

          • Michael Micucci

            Well, of course, if SOMEthing were to happen to even prove one one-thousandth of what the bible says beyond unverifiable hearsay and clearly dated falsehoods, then of course even skeptics would have to stop and consider. Of course, one would say these people weren’t really showing “faith” as they now have a clearly verifiable reason to believe (“faith” meaning to believe without logical reason, or more often, believe despite all logical reason or observable evidence).

          • 333, SC

            Yes. For anyone to really get faith God has to reveal Himself to them much like a person coming up behind you and tapping you on the shoulder and saying, here I am. They need merely be open to the merest possibility that could be possible 😉 I can’t expect you to believe my dog exists based on evidence; for you there isn’t any except my hearsay. I’ve met her though; she’s right here. *g*

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            The difference is, of course, that we know that dogs exist, so no faith is necessary to assume you could quite plausibly have one. God, on the other hand, to put it charitably, lacks even a modicum of evidence, leaving aside arguments for the logical impossibility of any such supernatural entities. Faith, as Mark Twain so famously quipped, can be nicely summed up as believing what ain’t so. After all, no one needs faith to believe in the existence of something for which there is abundant evidence.

          • Toby Clark

            “The difference is, of course, that we know that dogs exist,”
            Well, unless of course you happen to be a dyslexic agnostic.

          • 333, SC

            Well, my unicorn then. It’s here too. *g*

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            The existence of unicorns are still more plausible than the existence of gods.

          • 333, SC

            The unicorns *are* gods.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Well, but that’s the problem right there. There’s a difference between the “merest possibility” and probability. Positing the existence of unicorns, while not impossible, is nevertheless highly improbable, given what we know. The monotheistic gods, on the other hand, are composed of neither matter nor energy and are outside of space-time. They cannot possibly exist in any humanly conceivable way. What the theologians have done, inadvertently, is define “god” out of existence, literally.

          • 333 SC

            I’m not sure by that definition an infinite and unbounded universe, or any concept of infinity can exist then. Sure, you can say “infinity”, and define it, but you can’t wrap your mind around it. How can the number of integers be infinite, and yet the number of fractions between each integer be an infinite order of magnitude more infinite. We accept that the universe came from somewhere. If it comes from a cycle of universal collapse and rebirth that cycle was begun somehow. Where or what that somewhere or somehow is as unknowable and outside science as any concept of God.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            You may be right that the origins of the universe are unknowable, just as the concept of god. Which begs the question why posit the existence of something which cannot conceivably exist. We may never know how the universe came to be, and I’m fine with not knowing. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying to find the answers though. But the question of the origin of the universe is not even remotely comparable with positing the existence of gods. We have very good evidence that the universe exists. God… um, not so much…

          • 333 SC

            Well, the “why” is, is there an afterlife and if so. will i get there? I will admit that when I was an atheist I had the same attitude; namely who cares where it came from. But now the thought of a possible existence beyond this one interests me greatly. 🙂

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Then truth is irrelevant, isn’t it. If gods are inconceivable (or “incomprehensible” as argued by theologians), how can anything meaningful be said about it? That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be interested in exploring the unknowable. But someone who posits the existence of an inconceivable something–whose existence is the negation of everything we know about what it means to actually exist–doesn’t really care all that much about certain fundamental questions such as, for example, the origin of the universe. Why? Because they’re not searching for provable or even conceivable answers to complex questions. They’re searching for a sense of security because they fear death. If they were really interested in the mysteries of the universe, they wouldn’t stop short with the literal deus ex machina answer, which is really no answer at all. In fact, they would embrace the unknown and possibly unknowable, not cling to what ultimately amounts to an unproveable and logically contradictory and absurd security blanket.

          • 333 SC

            That is almost certainly true more often than not. However many of us are in fact very interested in all that is knowable as well as the implications of that which is fundamentally unknowable. I believe because I feel like a blind man who’s eyes have been opened and have experienced sight. I cannot expect anyone who has not had that sense awakened to take anything I say for anything other than ramblings. Do you read Stanislaw Lem by any chance? The 22nd Voyage in the Star Diaries sums up where I’m at on the whole thing pretty well. Christians are called on to evangelize but I tend to think that’s a fundamentally useless pursuit- chances are if you win someone to the cause with rhetoric or promises of an afterlife you actually win nothing but a mind that wasn’t strong enough to put up the arguments that you (and others) have. So all I can really do is discuss my own experience and leave it at that… *g*

    • david

      I hope this does not offend anyone but these sort of stories make it look like God is a sadistic ass. I will save those who worship me but the rest are going to be put through a living he’ll. it hardly speaks of an all encompassing love.

      • 333, SC

        Well, look at it this way. You’re in a tall building that’s on fire. God is at the bottom with a big net saying “jump to safety, I promise I will catch you.” You say. nope, I don’t believe you will. God begs you to jump to safety but you still refuse and burn to death in the fire, screaming horribly. The spectators all then proceed to say what a jerk God is for not saving you. That’s the general idea. CS Lewis wrote extensively on the subject.

        • Michael Micucci

          Or more like: God says he’ll save you from the fire if you run this obstacle course with a set of very specific rules. If you stop to help someone else escape the fire, but fail to follow the exact course he laid out, he’ll flatly refuse to save you, even if you are at the bottom, just waiting for him to open the door. And the guy who steps over children and murders innocents to get through the course and out of the building, he’ll be saved without question because he followed the specific rules.

          Oh, and of course, God started the fire in the first place for no reason other than to “test” his creation, and didn’t let it show any flames or give off any heat or other indications to let anyone know it was burning, aside from just telling a couple of people two thousand years ago that this particular building would burn on this day, and to please pass down the word over the generations, and then refusing to display any evidence that a fire was imminent, and in fact putting into place many signs that there was NO fire, and then punishing people who believed those “false” signs with endless, infinite torture.

          I think that more or less captures the full concept of New Age Christian “rapture”.

          • 333, SC

            Well, there’s a lot to respond to there point by point this early in the morning 😉 Suffice to say I don’t personally think God is a sadist. Children can often think the things parents make them do and the rules they set are for no other purpose than to make life suck for them but the parents know otherwise. The interesting point (in what is probably a very flawed analogy for a complex subject) is, did God set the fire and what is the morality of that. It’s something that I think about as well. Far better minds than mine have thunk on things like that; I tend to go to CS Lewis again for that sort of thing.

  • Gallen Dugall

    “Like a lot of Christian films of late, the people who aren’t Christian are often portrayed as angry sinners who basically deserve the hell they’re going to.”
    Sadly some “Christians” only care about feeling superior to others.

    • Hayde Christiansson

      That’s also true of sjws, look at what happened at Yale, Missiouri, and Dartmouth

      • Gallen Dugall

        Well, yeah, it’s a central principle of modern politics as perfected by the Nazis: Blind support of the movement imparts superiority. Incredibly seductive, and obviously stupid, but unquestioningly effective at growing a movement that has no substance.

        • Hayde Christiansson

          Well said

        • 333 SC

          It’s really not true though. A vast majority of Christians try and follow Christ (imagine that!!) and are humble and quiet about their beliefs, just trying to live a good life. The people you speak of are not Christians, they’re assholes. They just seems like they’re everywhere because by definition they get all the attention.

          • david

            It is the same in all walks of life. the people who shout the loudest get the most attention. and they are often not a good example of whatever group the claim to represent.

  • Greenhornet

    I used visit a site that critiqued the Left Behind books. From my memories and your description, the books were a lot better than this version.
    The site’s “Right Behind” section where the posters tried to correct some of the books is a treat if anyone wants to look it up.

  • Wait…so the movie doesn’t even bother bringing in the Antichrist character, i.e. the best part of the first book? What a waste.

  • Chris Palmer

    Another thing you should have mentioned: The entire plot of this movie (minus the crash) is covered in the opening chapters of the book. Meaning that if this movie had been successful, we would have had two full movies of a bad Tom Clancy-esque political thriller.

    For those who haven’t read the book, Buck goes on to cover the rise of UN leader Nicolae Carpathia. Carpathia, it seems, is being used as a pawn by moguls Jonathan Stonagal and Joshua Todd-Cothran to um…I’m not really sure. But it turns out that Carpathia is actually the Antichrist, using Chaim Rosenzweig’s miracle plant fertilizer to make a seven-year deal with Israel. This all culminates in one of the only cool scenes, where Carpathia shoots Stonagal and Todd-Cothran, and brainwashes everyone into believing that Stonagal was the real killer. Meanwhile, Buck’s used two false identities and there’s a long set-up for a plot regarding two prophets (to be resolved in the sequel). It’s damning when the two best bits are the Rapture and the double murder at the end.