The most important event in the history of mankind is happening right now. In the blink of an eye, the biblical Rapture strikes the world. Millions of people disappear without a trace. All that remains are their clothes and belongings, and in an instant, terror and chaos spread around the world. The vanishings cause unmanned vehicles to crash and burn. Planes fall from the sky. Emergency forces everywhere are devastated. Gridlock, riots and looting overrun the cities. There is no one to help or provide answers. In a moment, the entire planet is plunged into darkness.
Normally, I avoid faith-based productions because I know I’m in no way their target audience. Having seen the original Left Behind, though, I was curious about how filmmakers would try to remake the film, especially with the casting coup of Nicolas Cage as Rayford Steele. With the announced plan to try and make this reboot more accessible to mainstream audiences, I had to see what the filmmakers had in mind.
As it turns out, they created a huge dud.
First off, trying to make a movie about the Rapture means it’s specifically tied to one particular religion: Christianity. That means that, for the purposes of this film, only Christians (and children under a certain, undefined age) are raptured, and everyone else is left on Earth. The inclusion of a Muslim character only serves to reinforce that being good isn’t enough to be raptured.
I mention this because in an effort to “downplay” the religious element, the concept of the Rapture isn’t explored for most of the film. It just happens, and no one seems to think of it as a possible explanation for quite a while. It doesn’t come across as plausible.
It doesn’t help that, for an indie film made with a $15 million dollar budget, the scale of the film is laughably small. My guess is that a large chunk of the budget went to Cage to secure his participation. The previous version of the story at least attempted to look like a world gone mad. Here, it’s hard to tell that anything’s occurred outside of the city (which is supposed to be a stand-in for New York City, but clearly isn’t). And then there’s the music, which sounds like stock music that someone bought because there wasn’t enough money to get some session players in to play a simple score.
Of course, most people interested in this review will wonder more about Cage’s performance. Here’s the thing: Cage can be pretty hammy and awful, but when he’s hammy and awful, it’s interesting to watch at least. Cage seems bored here, and a bored Cage is not one I want to watch. The only time where Cage comes out of his state of boredom is when he’s piecing together (through his copilot’s watch which is inscribed with “John 3:16” and an attendant’s planner’s note reading “Bible Study”) that the Rapture occurred. Cassi Thomson and Chad Michael Murray are marginally better as Chloe Steele and Buck Williams, but no one here can elevate the creaky script.
The filmmakers apparently plan to make this into a new trilogy, but I’m not sure what they plan to do, since they’ve removed so many elements in order to “mainstream” the story. There’s no Antichrist here, for instance, and I don’t know if they’d introduce Nicolae Carpathia in a sequel. I don’t really care, either. Even among faith-based films, this is a shockingly dull entry. There are other, better options for the target audience, and for audiences in general.