“Left Behind” stars Nicolas Cage and sets much of the action on board a plane, but make no mistake, this isn’t “Con Air.” Instead of raising hell, Cage is playing it pious in a remake of a Kirk Cameron movie about the rapture.
Cage is Rayford Steele, husband, father, pilot and sinner. The day his daughter Chloe (Cassi Thomson) comes to visit he leaves on a cross-country flight to be with his mistress, flight attendant Hattie (Nicky Whelan). On board are investigative reporter Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray) and a group of passengers who get the shock of their lives when some of their seatmates seemingly disappear, leaving behind only their clothes. The phenomenon has caused turmoil on ground level as well. Millions of people have vaporized; cars crash randomly, their drivers suddenly gone and chaos reigns. “If this is a weapon, it’s not from this planet!” Chloe struggles to comprehend what has happened, find her brother and mother (Lea Thompson) and try and help her father land his plane. Meanwhile in air Steele tries to calm his hysterical passengers and Buck tries to figure what the hell is going on. Or maybe that should be what in God’s name is going on.
Based on a popular book series about the rapture by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, “Left Behind” is a mainstream reboot of a successful string of Christian movies. Directed by Vic Armstrong, the legendary stunt man best known for the “Indiana Jones” movies, the new “Left Behind” has a distinct b-movie feel, with flimsy sets and bad dialogue (“Either I’m going crazy or the whole world is insane!”) but it does feature something rather remarkable—a subdued performance from Cage. Lately he’s been a practitioner of something he calls Nouveau Shamanic school of acting but here he has dialed it way down perhaps out of respect to the religious nature of the material, or perhaps he’s saving the wild stuff for “Con Air 2: This Time it’s Biblical.”