Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
Rapture: This term is most commonly used to refer to the Bible prophecy where faithful believers are taken up to Heaven before the apocalyptic end of days tribulation period of 7 years.
affairs / adultery
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer
How good is good enough? Answer
Will all mankind eventually be saved? Answer
about the Bible
|Featuring:||Nicolas Cage … Rayford Steele
Lea Thompson … Irene Steele
Nicky Whelan … Hattie Durham
Chad Michael Murray … Buck Williams
Cassi Thomson … Chloe Steele
Laura Cayouette … Neighbor Woman
Quinton Aaron … Simon
Jordin Sparks … Shasta Carvell
Martin Klebba … Melvin Weir (dwarf)
|Director:||Vic Armstrong—Second Unit Director and stunt coordinator for “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” (2014) and “Thor” (2011)|
|Producer:||Stoney Lake Entertainment|
|Distributor:||Freestyle Releasing, eOne Entertainment|
“The end begins.”
What will you do when the world as you know it suddenly comes to an end? How will the world react if all children, from every corner of the globe vanish? “Left Behind” attempts to paint a picture of the day this happens as untold millions of people disappear at the same moment and without a clue.
The day begins innocently enough when a young college student named Chloe (Cassi Thomson) arrives at her hometown airport to visit her parents on the day of her dad’s birthday. Unfortunately, her father Ray Steele, played with likable ease by Nicolas Cage, is piloting a commercial flight to London within the hour. An impromptu meeting with him is marred when she sees her dad openly flirting with a flight attendant named Hattie Durham (Nicky Whelan).
Also at the airport is well-known photo journalist Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray) who is confronted by a stranger informing him that the “famines and earthquakes” that he has covered were prophesied in the Bible and are signs that the world will soon come to judgment (Matthew Chapter 24). Before Buck can say much else, Chloe, who happens to be walking by, takes on the stranger by questioning the existence of God. It becomes obvious that she and Buck have made a connection over this episode, and, as her dad goes to prepare for the flight, Buck is also talking and even exchange numbers before he too has to board the plane.
The flight takes off and Hattie is soon boasting to fellow stewardess Kimmy that she and Ray will be enjoying the weekend in London “together” for the first time. Meanwhile, Chloe has arrived home and soon accosts her mom (Lea Thompson) for recently finding God, which must have so alienated dad he felt compelled to work on his birthday, the whole point of her visit. Frustrated, Chloe decides to go to the mall with her little brother Raymie (Major Dodson), and it is then, during the middle of the day, on the plane her dad is piloting, and, in fact, all over the world that millions of people suddenly vanish with nothing but their clothes remaining.
Planes, cars and school buses, suddenly devoid of drivers, crash, and everywhere panic erupts as shocked and bewildered parents discover that their kids, the very young and innocent, have also been snatched from them in the twinkling of an eye.
The rest of the film divides its time between the danger on board Ray’s flight, as there may be no place to land in New York, his panicking passengers who have lost loved ones in mid-air, a hometown gone mad and Chloe’s journey as she, like her dad come to the slow realization that they had been warned about this before and now have no idea what comes next.
After an admittedly slow build up, “Left Behind” does get interesting, and the interaction between the passengers showcases the “everyman’s” reactions and biases that inevitably arise in any emergency situation.
Language. Minor. The closest the film comes to taking God’s name in vain is when Hattie discovers her co-worker is gone and exclaims, “Oh God, Kimmy!”, otherwise God’s name is either said in deference or else defiant as in, “How can a loving God allow this?” Profanity was almost non-existent save for a single “S***” word which was so out of place with the rest of the movie that I missed it the first time I saw the movie, but it is there none-the-less. Why it was included in an otherwise Christian film is beyond me. Ray intends to be unfaithful while on this trip, yet no explicit details are given by him or Hattie.
Violence: Moderate to heavy. Aside from the panic, seen locally and worldwide via television, there is wholesale looting of stores, people fighting each other, many crashes, and a man is shot trying to rob a jewelry store. People are threatened by guns and two “threaten” suicide, but no blood is ever shown, and neither are any deaths on screen, aside from the robber. A school bus goes off a bridge, but no driver or children are found. There is the peril of planes crashing into each other, and people everywhere are seen falling into a frenzied mob mentality.
Violence against oneself, in the form of drug abuse (still often erroneously referred to as a victimless crime), is also shown when a passenger resorts to this in order to escape the horror of what has happened (unsuitable for younger children, especially due to the intensity of the situations).
Sex/Nudity: Mild. Ray clearly intends to be unfaithful to his wife Irene, but no details are discussed, either by him or Hattie. When we first see Hattie, the camera focuses on her legs, and her blouse is probably a size too small, as she is practically bursting out of it. Chloe shows her own cleavage, though most often in threatening situations where the tension overrides the moment. I noticed nothing else bordering on inappropriate.
A Muslim passenger suggests, after hearing numerous theories on the disappearances (alien abduction, invisibility), that they all consider prayer. While this instigates an argument on the plane as to, “whose God do we pray to?”, the point is a Biblically valid one and supported by the whole of the Bible, for good reason. At times of judgment, prayers to God have saved his people, as when Moses cried out on their behalf.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” —Matthew 7:7-8
Ray had not yet been physically unfaithful to his wife, but he is clearly planning to commit adultery with Hattie while in London (having first committed adultery in his heart). His alienation from his wife may have begun the day she was saved, a year earlier, however the Bible warns us that by dwelling on desires we know are wrong, no matter what the “excuse,” it will inevitably lead to acting out the sin.
“But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” —James 1:14-15
“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” —Matthew 24:40
Looking for answers, Chloe heads for her church, only to find it deserted, except for Pastor Barnes (Lance E. Nichols). Shocked, she asks him why wasn’t he taken (raptured), and he is forced to admit the reason when he says, “I knew the Words, I could quote them chapter and verse, but that’s not enough, you have to believe.” Our Lord himself warned us that many who call on his name would find themselves in the same position for lack of faith, and the deeds that follow faith as a matter of course.
“Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” —Luke 6:46
Based on the popular twelve (12) part book series, readers familiar with the works should be aware that the film only covers content from a few chapters of book one. The anti-Christ never gets introduced, so we don’t get to see the world government begin to take shape under his leadership. A few other liberties are also taken with the storyline, making it seem more like a real-time disaster film, but more in the tradition of an episodic TV series like “24”.
As an “end-time” film, it captures well the utter sense of hopelessness that must take place after the Rapture. The kind that will drive many to thoughts of suicide and yet others to God, and that will be what comes next for those “left behind”—the choice to then acknowledge Jesus as Lord or to continue to live this life rejecting him. Yet, as desperately as it is portrayed, real events will pan out much more tragically than can be captured by a writer’s imagination. Hopefully, the film will encourage many to do their own research on the subject, beginning with the most reliable source—that of God’s Word-because no one can truly know his timing and we all need to be focusing on Him lest we be caught unawares.
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” —Matthew 24:42-44
“Left Behind” is a decently made, taut and suspenseful drama with enough humor to keep it interesting, but the small budget, by Hollywood measures, gives it a small screen (TV) quality that is occasionally hard to ignore. Messaging, however, is excellent (as far as it goes), and it made me wish this had instead been produced as a year-long TV series, as I do believe it deserves high marks for effort, though slightly lower for execution.
Violence: Moderate to heavy / Profanity: Mild—“My God” (2), “Oh God” (1), s-word (1) / Sex/Nudity: Mild
official site: LeftBehindMovie.com
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…Very strong Christian, biblical worldview… The strength of the movie is that it profoundly poses the simple question, “Are you ready?” …The weakness of the movie is that it takes so much time for the survivors to comprehend what happened. … [3/4]
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide
…Left Behind is not a good movie—Christian or otherwise. …It’s mainly an airplane-in-peril drama rather than a thoughtful treatment of the story’s theological underpinnings. …too little eschatology, too much disaster… stock disaster-movie tropes and an absurd finale…
—Christian Hamaker, Crosswalk
…Where’s the Antichrist? Where’s this and that character? This movie cares about none of that stuff. It cares about the thrill of a plane crash, explosions, cars soaring off bridges, chaos, panic, and disaster. …“Left Behind” is not a Christian Movie …the film takes no stance on anything. …
—Jackson Cuidon, Christianity Today
…It struggles sometimes with plot holes and special effects but tries to make up for that by working hard to raise questions that both the faithful and the faith-seeker can examine and discuss… you can’t watch it without wondering what's up with your own spiritual condition. [4/5]
—Bob Hoose, Plugged In
…With a “Sharknado”-inspired visual style and a deeply weary lead performance from Nicolas Cage, “Left Behind” is cheap-looking, overwrought kitsch of the most unintentionally hilarious order… as for when believers can expect to see the tenets of their faith reflected with any sort of sophistication or intelligence in a mainstream genre film, we still know neither the day nor the hour. …
—Andrew Barker, Variety
…hackneyed religious thriller (think “The Leftovers” as interpreted by the Hallmark Channel). …
—Sara Stewart, New York Post