Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Mix "Left Behind" with "Airport" and add Nicholas Cage (although I'll take Chad Michael Murray, even if God doesn't)
There’s a new “Left Behind” movie, with Nicholas Cage, whose energy for a remake is about like what he put in to “The Wicker Man”. It is directed by V. Armstrong, and written by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim La Haye, only loosely based on the novels. The 2000 film with Kirk Cameron was discussed here Jan. 24, 2011. In fact, this movie seems like a merger with the old “Airport” franchise.
Cage plays an airline pilot Rayford Steele, with a religious wife (Lea Thompson) and energetic but secular-humanist daughter (Cassi Thomson). Cage gets called in to fly to London the night of his daughter’s birthday. The film spends at least thirty minutes in a verbose prologue, introducing a very likeable journalist, Buck Williams, played by Chad Michael Murray (“One Tree Hill”).
After the flight takes off from JFK to London, the movie bifurcates, spinning a story in the airport cabin, while tracing the movements of his family members on Long Island. There is some tension among the passengers, one a Muslim, another a dwarf, another grotesquely obese. Buck seems to get first class and turns out to be the (non-believing) peacemaker.
There is a thud on the plane, and suddenly about a third of the passengers are gone, their clothes intact. We don’t see them disappear. The copilot disappears. It’s a while before Steele knows that this is worldwide, and that this is indeed The Rapture of the Believers.
Like “The Remaining” (Sept. 24), the film shows the immediate aftermath of The Rapture, without much of a clue as to how society will settle out (in the series “The Leftovers”, it’s tree years later, and here there’s not enough time for a Guilty Remnant). This one is different in that there are no corpses. The theological point claimed is that God took away the Believers to protect them from the Tribulations, which will involve persecutions (like what happens now with ISIS in Syria and Iraq). It’s a very group-centered (of family and tribe-centered) system that filters down to define personal morality necessary to survive and become relevant in such a world – and you wouldn’t want to be Left Behind after all. Buck seems like a good enough person, and will have a lot to report on as a journalist. Steele seems to get converted.
The plot conclusion, where the daughter helps Steele crash land (after a mid-air collision) gets pretty silly. Some of the scenery looks like the Rockaways.
The official site is here for E-one and Freestyle Releasing. I saw the film in a large Regal auditorium Tuesday afternoon with few spectators.