Nic Cage Gets Jesus Crazy In The Funniest Film of 2014
Left Behind was originally a fairly successful franchise for Kirk Cameron in the direct to video market, appealing to the faith based market that Hollywood has profoundly underserved for many years. So it’s interesting to see that a big budget version of that franchise come into existence with an established star like Nicolas Cage at the forefront. And it might easily be the funniest film of 2014 by far, albeit unintentionally, as the sheer overwhelming hilarity of the proceedings is astoundingly hilarious.
Cage is Rayford Steele, the perfect name for an action movie hero that isn’t Chev Chelios, a pilot skipping out on his daughter’s surprise visit on his birthday to go to London to cheat on his newly religious wife (Lea Thompson) with a sexy flight attendant (Nicky Whelan). His daughter (Cassi Thomson) has a meet cute with a reporter (Chad Michael Murray) where both insult a religious lady in an airport. With Rayford on the same flight as the reporter, they are all struck at odds when the Rapture hits. Millions of true believers and the innocent disappear and Rayford has to deal with the consequences of it on his flight. Humanity is in a state of panic and an increasingly desperate situation in the air.
Then it gets all Jesus crazy as the film focuses on Biblical myth and lore to set up a potential faith based franchise for Cage.
This is a film for the faith based set, a film with a budget to rework the fairly successful franchise with faith based direct to DVD star Kirk Cameron, but without anyone from the original trilogy. It’s interesting to see Murray replace Cameron in Cameron’s most prominent role, as neither actor is known for being generally all that good, but there’s a recurring theme in this film for him and the rest of the cast. They seem to be almost embarrassed by how awful the dialogue in this film is and the film becomes an almost intentional comedy of sorts.
If this was a parody of a faith based film it would be absolutely brilliant.
The film may have a bigger budget than the typical faith based film but the problems it has are the same ones that seem to plague faith based films in general. It focuses more on pushing the agenda towards the true believers than it does of looking to make a good film. It has all the elements of a great human story and does absolutely nothing interesting with it. The film’s focus on this man having a conflict of faith at the exact worst moment for it to happen (flying an airplane during the chaos of the Rapture) while worrying about his family is a terrific set up for a genuinely intriguing film, especially a faith based one.
The nature of faith is one that generally requires a leap to it, as Kierkegaard wrote, and that’s what this film is working with. Steele is a man who’s given up on his family, and had some event in his past that made him give up the faith his family enjoy, and this moment is something profound to his life. How he handles it will change the course of the rest of his life, and his family’s, and yet this isn’t explored in any meaningful manner. Cage is game for that, not turning in one of his usual awful performances he could’ve sent in via Fedex, but the film doesn’t reward his efforts by giving him a good character or strong dialogue to work with.
The film’s dialogue is so awful it trashes the entire film in the process. This is a professional, talented cast that could do something with this besides just make it a big budget looking version of the generic awfulness that comprises the low budget, amateurish efforts that most faith based films wind up being. There’s something here to be explored, with a cast of note and some interesting looks at the nature of humanity in a crisis, and the film mails it in to just regurgitate the same talking points that the Kirk Cameron film used.
The original Left Behind has the excuse of being a low budget, pandering to a certain demographic movie meant to be something you could pick up at Target. This version has an Academy Award winner in the lead and yet doesn’t aspire to be anything more than something headlined up by the child star of Growing Pains. Apparently a big budget version of Left Behind decided to leave behind a good script and the desire to explore something interesting for the chance to preach to a larger congregation.
Director: Vic Armstrong Writers: Paul LaLonde and John Patus based off the novel of the same name by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins Notable Cast: Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, Cassi Thomson, Lea Thompson, Jordin Sparks, Lolo Jones
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.