Left Behind destined for so-bad-it's-good status

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      Starring Nicolas Cage and Cassi Thomson. Rated PG.

      The fact that I enjoyed the bejesus out of Left Behind shouldn’t be taken as a recommendation. I also loved the first adaptation of the Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins end-times bestseller, which Kirk Cameron brought to the DVD remainder bin in 2000. Either one is an appalling piece of shit marketed to dummies, but then again, so is any Batman movie. Left Behind is simply more direct in its intent to fondle the apocalypse anxieties of its specific, megachurch-going audience.

      That said, director Vic Armstrong is no Christopher Nolan. He’s not even a filmmaker, based on either his résumé (50 years of stunt coordination) or the remarkably flat and woefully tension-free results of his work here. This bigger-budget reboot of the series fails on every level—shoddy effects work, amateurish staging, Nic Cage’s wig—but it’s a slam-dunk for any midnight-movie crowd looking for its next Room.

      Cage is Rayford Steele (what an awesome name), a puffy middle-aged airline pilot trying to enjoy a sneaky transatlantic tryst with his coworker, the boobsome young slut Hattie (Nicky Whelan). He leaves behind a Bible-thumping wife (Lea Thompson, incredibly) and his daughter, Chloe (Cassi Thomson), an angry teen experimenting with atheism who’s prone to question the existence of God, generally on the “why would He let children suffer” level of theological debate.

      God gets the last word on that issue: when the Rapture comes, it’s children and pie-eyed super-weirdos like Mom who get pulled into heaven (sans clothes, which remain in neat little piles back on Earth). This opportunity for a massive and slightly pervy effects sequence depicting naked born-agains flapping their way skyward is squandered. Instead, we get two hours of Steele trying to land a crippled plane with the help of handsome investigative journalist Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray), whose existence is pointless, at least storywise. And Chloe? I’m not really sure what she was doing.

      In any event, what kind of God would let this movie happen?

      Follow Adrian Mack on Twitter at @adrianmacked.