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Cage Match: Round 2 – Left Behind

Cage Match is an ongoing look at Nicolas Cage’s output from the last decade or so. I’m watching, reviewing and ranking all those movies that barely played in theatres or went straight to DVD. What are these movies all about? Which one is the best? There can be only one true Cage movie of note. Join me and let’s find out together!

Our second contender in the Cage is Left Behind, a 1 hr 50 minute 2014 release that is based on the book series.

Estimated Budget: $16,000,000 USD (estimated), Gross Worldwide: $27,405,896

Left Behind Review

What’s Cage up to this time?

Cage plays Rayford Motherfuckin’ Steele (I may have added the middle name), a pilot who is mad at his wife because she found Jesus and won’t shut up about it. He is going to cheat on her with a flight attendant on a flight to London. Unfortunately for him, and many others, the Rapture occurs during the flight and a bunch of passengers, along with his co-pilot, go missing. Can Steele land the plane and figure out where all those people went?!

Who else is in the cage?

The biggest star after Cage is Chad Michael Murray as Buck Motherfuckin’ Williams (I may have added the middle name), an investigative journalist who is so famous he is recognized literally everywhere he goes. I have a Diploma in Journalism and this concept is maybe the most far-fetched idea in the movie. You would think he would be the guy to put all the pieces together and figure out what’s going on. He is instead the guy who asks Rayford what he means when told the plane is out of fuel. The world’s best journalist everyone!

We also have Cassi Thomson as Rayford’s daughter, Chloe Motherfuckin’ Steele (I may have added the middle name) who shows up to surprise Rayford for his birthday. After he takes off because that’s a lesser priority than infidelity, she goes home to yell at her mom for being too into Jesus. She then storms off to the mall (which has a bigger crowd than any mall has seen since at least 1998) where her brother soon vanishes in her arms. She spends the rest of the movie running around yelling his name and expertly driving any kind of vehicle she comes across. We’re also meant to believe there’s a spark between her and Buck because they talked in the airport for eight minutes.

Oh Lea Thompson is there for about five minutes to talk about God and hold a really bad Photoshopped picture of her family.

Behind the camera is Vic Armstrong. Armstrong primarily works as a stuntman and his resume in that field is incredibly impressive. Prior to Left Behind, he had only directed the 1993 Dolph Lundgren film Army of One/Joshua Tree, which I remember being ok. Following Left Behind he has only directed one other movie about horse jumping.

It was adapted from a series of novels by Paul Lalonde and John Patus. I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear their other credits involve movies like Revelations, Judgment, Tribulation, and the last series of Left Behind movies with Kirk Cameron.

Is the movie worthy of Cage?

Even in 2014, Left Behind was considered beneath Cage and his presence confused many people. It turns out he did the movie as a favour to his brother, who is a Priest.

I’m not going to go after Left Behind for being a religious movie. I’m going to go after Left Behind because it’s a very bad movie. I think you could make an interesting movie based on this concept but this is not it. This is a story about the early stages of the literal apocalypse. There are so many things you can do with that idea, but instead most of this movie is about Rayford trying to land the plane. 60 – 70% of this movie takes place on the plane as we watch people yell at each other and demand answers. The rest of the time is spent watching Chloe run around on the ground accomplishing nothing.

There is exactly one interesting stretch of this movie right after everyone is raptured. All of the kids are taken and watching the parents who were left behind grieving and clutching their kids’ stuff is effective. Though, it’s comical how quickly society completely crumbles. So many people have a half second of confusion before immediately concluding it’s absolutely time to loot. This part of the movie introduces my two favourite characters:

  1. Guy desperately fleeing the mall holding two shirts he stole off the rack
  2. Woman tearfully pleading “stooooooop” with the guy in the truck who keeps rear ending her

That’s it though. That’s the only part that comes close to being decent and its three minutes out of a 110 (!) minute movie. This movie has enough plot to fill a 44 minute TV episode and it’s crazy they stretched it out to nearly two hours. I assume this was planned to be the first in a series, but you can’t hold back all the interesting stuff to show us later because nobody will give enough of a shit to watch the beginning.

The music in Left Behind is hysterical. There is not one piece of music that works. It all sounds like the end credit score for an 80’s sitcom about two mismatched roommates learning to overcome their differences and be friends.

How Cage-y is Cage?

Not at all. He spends most of the movie sitting in the pilot seat saying plane nouns. He gets one emotional moment but usually looks and sounds bored. I mentioned earlier he did the movie as a favour and it’s not hard to tell. I imagine it didn’t take Cage long to realize what he had signed up for and he likely coasted through the role from there.

You bought the blu-ray?! Are there bonus features at least?!

The blu-ray menu for this movie contains something I’ve never seen before. There’s selectable options for both Special Features and Bonus Features.

The special features contain a handful of cast and crew interviews, along with some behind the scenes footage. Cage does seem to be passionate about the material in his interview. He wants the movie to bring families closer and inspire conversation around the dinner table. I’m sure it did but I imagine a lot of it was “Why the fuck did you make me watch that movie?!”

There’s a lot of disconnect between the movie we got and the movie everyone seems to think they’re making. Phrases like “action-packed” and “thrilling” are thrown around and I started to wonder if they were originally asked to describe an actual roller coaster and then some creative editing took care of the rest.

The rest of the interviews cover a lot of the same ground. The actor describes what happens to them in the movie and talks about all the prep work they did like reading the script or reading the book or thinking about things.

The Bonus Features section is where it’s really at. Here we find a handful of trailers for other Christian action thrillers and it’s…wow. Mr. T is there and Gary Busey is running backwards at one point and the music always drowns out the dialogue and it’s a fascinating ten-minute journey that almost made watching the actual movie worth it.

Should you get into this cage?

Absolutely not. While there are a few unintentional laughs, this movie does not qualify as being so bad it’s good. It’s a painfully dull and humourless experience that feels endless. Scenes drag on for minutes beyond their logical stopping point and there’s almost zero tension despite what the overbearing soundtrack thinks. I don’t want to judge other peoples’ opinions but I can’t fathom how anyone could walk away from this happy. “I guess I didn’t hate it?” is the only acceptable level of praise for this movie.

Where does it rank?

Ok, this is only the second movie I’ve watched for this feature but I would be willing to throw down a large sum of money and bet that nothing is going to rank beneath it. This has set a low bar. All every other movie has to do is not be terrible, and it will immediately rank higher. So congrats Primal! Enjoy your time at the top for at least a little bit longer!

As it stands:

Left Behind

Published inMovie Reviews

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