Left Behind: The Movie

If anything, the makes of Left Behind sure have guts. This is an adaptation of the first book in a series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye (currently at eight books and counting), a phenomenon in Christian publishing that crossed over and landed on national bestseller lists. The really crazy part is that the video and DVD came out nearly five months ago. Producers hoped that word of mouth would be able to sustain a national theatrical release. Going against this release is the (unfortunately well deserved) reputation Christians films have for poor production qualities. Saying this is by far the best Christian movie released is true, but still does not say much for the film. The quality level is far beyond any predecessors, but still falls somewhere between direct-to video and movie-of-the-week fare and standard Hollywood crap.

Left Behind benefits from having a well-thought out script. John Bishop (Drop Zone) and Alan B. McElroy adapt what one would assume is a semi-decent book. The series deals with Biblical events concerning the Apocalypse and the Rapture. In Left Behind, all Christians disappear during the Rapture, giving way to seven years under the rule of the Antichrist. Left Behind tries to take a grand view of the Rapture, looking at events through the eyes of many people. Buck Williams (Kirk Cameron, Growing Pains: The Movie) is a national reporter, and Hattie Durham (Chelsea Noble, Growing Pains: The Movie) is a flight attendant. She had an affair with pilot Rayford Steele (Brad Johnson, Across the Board, Silk Hope). Nicolae Carpathia (Gordon Currie, Dog Park, Falling Through) is a rising world leader with a Russian/Slavic accent (gee, any guess who he could be? Santa? or someone else?). Cameron (who still looks like he's eighteen) is the strongest actor, which is another bad mark for the movie.

In Israel, Williams is reporting on some super crop that may eliminate world hunger. He witnesses an attack on Israel, with all the attacking planes seemingly by a miracle. On the way back, people disappear. This throws the world in a state of disarray, allowing Carpathia and others to try and grab power for themselves. While trying to deal with the loss of family and friends, a number of people convert to Christianity, after realizing the truth of what happened. Left Behind has mixed results in terms of preaching to the audience (one of the main downfalls of other Christian movies). Steele's words are a little much. Director Victor Sarin shows a glimpse of the person before conversion and much of the person after, but never gives enough detail about why the person chose to convert. Movie watchers are willing to believe anything as long as the script can support it. It cannot here. People are converting to Christianity, but Sarin does not present good enough reasons to believe these characters.

Left Behind also does a decent job of translating Biblical prophecy into modern events. The audience does not require a deep knowledge of the Bible (but some random comments will make more sense). The path of events is believable enough in the movie's terms, but the basic assumptions Left Behind uses to set events in motion are preposterous. Their explanations on issues like peace in the Middle East and other things like a world currency and politics are laughable. The most idiotic assumption is that nobody would draw any sort of connection to Christian theology if millions of people suddenly disappeared. These people in the movie are idiots. It takes them forever to draw their conclusions. Anyway, two sequels are already in the works, and the assumption is the more will be on the way, regardless of how this movie does in theaters. Although it should probably stay in video stores.
Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 35 minutes, Rated PG-13 for violence.

Back to Movies