Netflix's new no.1 movie thriller deserves more than its 40% Rotten Tomatoes score

Leave The World Behind has divided audiences and critics, but it's the perfect Christmas antithesis movie to stream on Netflix

Leave the World Behind streaming on Netflix
(Image credit: Netflix)

As the first week of December closes and we march towards the Christmas holiday break, there's another new Netflix number one movie that's risen to the top of the best streaming service's ranks – and it's decidedly the antithesis of a Christmas movie if I ever saw one (if you fancy something lighter then look to our 5 Heart-Warming Movies guide instead).

Leave The World Behind is a Netflix Original movie, written for screen and directed by Mr Robot's acclaimed creator, Sam Esmail, and features major stars Julia Roberts and Mahershala Ali. But despite such big names at the helm, this apocalyptic thriller has netted a mere 40% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. It's divided critics, too, with a 75% score on the same site.

I watched the new movie last night – in glorious 4K HDR, which looked spectacular – and, I must say, I'm totally at odds with how the score is so very low. There's almost never-ending suspense, the cinematography is sensational throughout (just look at the gallery below), and even the younger cast members deliver absolutely on-point performances that will hold your eyes to the screen, always wondering what's about the next turn. 

Sure, Leave The World Behind leaves lots of unanswered questions, too, and I have no doubt that where the film ultimately goes, the lingering uncertainty, and how it ends – no spoilers here! – will irk a large swathe of viewers. But I find the atypical sequences refreshing in a world of otherwise cookie-cutter action movies. Just check out the trailer above and, as you can see from the major set pieces, there's plenty of action to compliment the suspense. 

Sometimes it's those movies that divide crowds the most that will gain a more cult-like following. But as Leave The World Behind is based on a book of the same name – a 2020 novel by Rumaan Alam, which I confess I've not read (yet) – it may be Esmail's interpretation that sits at odds with fans of the original fiction.

The big directors are increasingly moving over to the streaming services rather than traditional movie studios, with the likes of Martin Scorsese developing a relationship with Apple TV+, for example. I think we'll be seeing plenty more examples of this in the coming years, whether on Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+ or elsewhere. That could make for more interesting viewing overall compared to Netflix's litany of cancelled series, eh?

So if you're feeling a bit Scrooge-like this Christmas and fancy delving deep into an apocalyptic thriller that'll visually delight, I fully recommend giving Leave The World Behind a chance. It deserves much more than its 40% Rotten Tomatoes audience score in my view – but that's the beauty of movies and their subjectivity; not one thing can appeal to everyone after all – otherwise, heck, I've rounded up five of the best worst-rated Christmas movies of all time instead...

Mike Lowe
Tech Editor

Mike is the Tech Editor at He's been writing about consumer technology for 15 years and, as a phones expert, has seen hundreds of handsets over the years – swathes of Android devices, a smattering of iPhones, and a batch of Windows Phone too (remember those?). But that's not all, as a tech and audio aficionado his beat at T3 also covers tablets, laptops, gaming, home cinema, TVs, speakers and more – there's barely a tech stone unturned he's not had a hand on. Previously the Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint for 10 years, he's also provided work for publications such as Wired, The Guardian, Metro, and more. In addition to his tech knowledge, Mike is also a flights and travel expert, having travelled the globe extensively. You'll likely find him setting up a new mobile phone, critiquing the next MacBook, all while planning his next getaway... or cycling somewhere.