It’s a toss-up as to which is more frightening in “Left Behind,” the Holy Rapture or Nicolas Cage’s toupee. Maybe the end times are upon us.
Not one blessed thing works in this low-rent adaptation of the first in the best-selling Christian book series. Not the casting, since Cage looks gray-faced and genuinely unhappy to be here playing Rayford Steele, an airline pilot forced into crisis mode when his co-pilot and half the passenger list disappear in mid-flight. Not the dialogue, which runs to the level of “Either I’m going crazy or the whole world is insane!” and “If my wife is going to run off with another man, why not Jesus?”
Not the production, which puts the Apocalypse in a suburban shopping mall and appears to be slightly less chaotic than your average Black Friday. Not the soundtrack music, culled from the better elevators and feminine hygiene commercials.
And certainly not the airship-of-fools casting, which fills the plane’s first-class section with a hilariously motley crew of surviving sinners: A kindly Muslim (Alec Rayme) -- sorry, pal, wrong deity -- an Asian nerd (Han Soto), a Texas businessman (Gary Grubbs), a sultry drug addict (Georgina Rawlings), the paranoid-schizophrenic wife of an abusive football player (former American Idol winner Jordin Sparks in a performance that literally cries out for a Razzie), and -- my favorite -- an extremely angry dwarf (Martin Klebba).
Helping Ray out in the cockpit as he tries to land the plane while grappling with God’s plan are the perky flight attendant (Nicky Whelan) he was hoping to fornicate with and Cameron “Buck” Williams (Chad Michael Murray), the superstar investigative reporter who has fallen hopelessly in love with Ray’s daughter Chloe (Cassi Thomson) after talking to her for 10 minutes in the airport. Chloe’s sin is that she is entirely charisma-free.
This isn’t a movie, it’s a drinking game. The faith film industry has made strides in recent years, resulting in higher-quality fare that non-believers can at least watch if not agree with. “Left Behind” is a step back, or three. The filmmakers have delivered themselves unto the hands of the Lord, but cinematically speaking, this is a win for the other team.