“Left Behind” is Rapture fiction as a dull zombie movie where the living dead are non-believers. The Christian faithful have disappeared all over the world.
One moment, 32 minutes into director Vic Armstrong’s film, is this remake’s lone grabber. A college coed (Cassi Thomson) loses her little brother midhug — empty clothes, baseball hat, glasses and backpack tumble to the floor of the mall where she’s hugging him. The screaming starts and anarchy instantly sets in as nonbelievers start rifling through the purses of those taken and quickly move on to looting.
Meanwhile, coed Chloe’s airline pilot dad (Nicolas Cage) finds his alone time with a shapely flight attendant (Nicky Whelan) interrupted when some of his passengers vanish. He ducks back into the cockpit and his co-pilot is gone. An empty uniform, a watch and ring are all that’s left in his seat.
Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray), an investigative reporter and passenger on the jet to London, loses his cameraman. In a ironically newsworthy coincidence, a weeping mom (Jordin Sparks) loses the daughter she was spiriting away, fleeing her life with an abusive NFL player.
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Buck starts questioning passengers: the angry dwarf (Martin Klebba), the Muslim everyone now suspects of something, a junkie who figures it’s a flashback.
And on the ground, frantic Chloe tries to get home through the abandoned cars and buses and dazed or demented survivors. Home is where Chloe expects to find her fundamentalist mother (Lea Thomson) whose proselytizing drove her away and drove her father into the arms of a willing flight attendant.
“If she’s going to run off with another man,” Dad cracks to Chloe in the prologue, “why not Jesus?”
A little early mockery of the faithful is as close to “edgy” as it gets in this film, based on the novel by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. There’s nothing pointed about it — no politics. The judgment here is more implied than overt: Muslims, philandering pilots, TV reporters and college kids aren’t getting into heaven. But there is one preacher left on duty.
But not even the preacher man uses the R-word. No one in the movie says “Rapture,” or for that matter swears, and some serious swear-worthy phenomena is going down. It’s as if none of the non-believers has ever heard of “The Rapture” or puts the pieces of the puzzle together.
It’s inoffensive, unless you take umbrage at the idea that the only people who know not to steal are True Believers, and all that keeps society from an instant meltdown are the Faithful.
All this bland action remake (Kirk Cameron’s first Christian films were versions of “Left Behind”) has to do is reunite father and daughter to get that jet safely on the ground, and for Captain Cage to get a refund for those U2 tickets he was planning on taking that sexy flight attendant to. Because everybody knows that when The Rapture comes, U2 won’t be around to fulfill their contract.
“Left Behind,” bigger budget or not, manages most of those without much excitement or mystery.