Did I say this before. All comes to those who wait. I’ve been wanting to review this movie. I’ve been waiting to review this movie. I have been keeping an eye on my subscribed subscription services, knowing the time would come. I spotted this on Amazon Prime Video and pounced. It’s Left Behind: The Movie, from the magical year 2000.
If you are just now waking up from a 20-year coma, then you may not know it, but they started making a series of movies based on the Tim LaHaye best-selling Left Behind series of novels. I say “best-selling” although I have never purchased one, nor has anybody I know owned up to having done so. There seems to be a special market for the world of Tim LaHaye, a world I am thinking also finds fascination in President Donald Trump. A promise made right here: I will purchase the book (first of the series), and I will do a review.
Anyhow, Wikipedia has this to say:
Left Behind is a 2000 Canadian-American religious science fiction thriller film directed by Vic Sarin and starring Kirk Cameron, Brad Johnson, Gordon Currie, and Clarence Gilyard. The film was based on the best-selling Christian eschatological end-times novel of the same name written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, adapted for the screen by Alan B. McElroy. The film was released first direct-to-video, followed by a limited theatrical release.
At the time of its release, the film was promoted by its creators as the “biggest and most ambitious Christian film ever made.
We have seen Kirk Cameron before. More about that later. Here is the cast from Wikipedia, where I am obtaining other details:
- Kirk Cameron as Buck Williams
- Brad Johnson as Captain Rayford Steele
- Gordon Currie as Nicolae Carpathia
- Janaya Stephens as Chloe Steele
- Clarence Gilyard, Jr. as Bruce Barnes
- Chelsea Noble as Hattie Durham
- Colin Fox as Chaim Rosenzweig
- Daniel Pilon as Jonathan Stonagal
- Tony DeSantis as Joshua Todd-Cothran
- Jack Langedijk as Dirk Burton
- Krista Bridges as Ivy Gold
- Thomas Hauff as Steve Plank
- Neil Crone as Ken Ritz
- T.D. Jakes as Pastor Vernon Billings (appearing on a video to be played post-Rapture)
- Rebecca St. James as Buck’s assistant
- Bob Carlisle as GNN reporter
- John Hagee as an unnamed passenger on Captain Steele’s flight, where many passengers (including Hagee) disappear after the Rapture
I can’t get past that last credit. Pastor John Hagee runs an evangelical mega-church a few miles from my house. Follow the link. Who would not have expected Hagee to weigh in on this project?
Anyhow, the opening scenes are Jerusalem in Israel at six p.m.—just to show you the production company went to the expense of obtaining stock footage from Israel.
The scene shifts. It’s a few minutes past six p.m. Williams is a star TV reporter, and he is interviewing Rosenzweig in a wheat field somewhere in Israel. Rosenzweig has developed a formula for a wheat species that will solve the world’s hunger problem. A member of the news production crew is getting it all on video.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, fighter jets attack like a swarm of hornets. Your first thought is somebody has mixed the videos, and you are watching an outtake from Independence Day. But, no. The planes are from Israel’s enemies, not named, and they have launched a surprise attack. It’s the end of Israel.
Yes, the pilots rose early in the day, spent hours in briefing sessions, then suited up and boarded their armed-up planes and took off for Israel as the sun was going down, all to bomb a wheat field. I am not kidding. These planes are dropping 500-pounders on a wheat field.
But, even before Israeli pilots can get their boots on, something starts to blow the attacking planes out of the sky. This is never explained in the movie. I really need to read the book.
Williams returns to the U.S.A., again a hero of front line reporting. Meanwhile Captain Rayford Steele prepares to take a flight from Chicago to London. His wife is not happy. She is not happy that she and the captain have disagreements about religion. She is not happy that he devotes too much time to his job instead of staying around the house with her. She is not unhappy about his affair with pretty airline stewardess Hattie Durham, because she does not know about it. Anyhow, this is the last time Captain Steele will see his wife.
There is also contention with Steele’s grown daughter Chloe. She wishes her father would spend more time with the family instead of gallivanting all over the world in an airplane. She also wishes she and her father did not have all these religious disagreements about religion with her mother.
Meanwhile, the evil Jonathan Stonagal is prepping naive Nicolae Carpathia to take over the United Nations. Stonagal has plans for world domination. Closeup shots of Stonagal remind us of Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
On the flight to London Hattie informs Captain Steel she is breaking off the liaison to take a job at the United Nations. Later she comes back from the cabin to let him know a number of the flight’s passengers have disappeared from the plane, leaving their clothing behind. How come I can’t help thinking about Heaven’s Gate?
It’s the Rapture. Jesus is calling all the faithful to join him in Heaven, which is why they are not taking their clothing and other belongings. Back in the USA Chloe becomes aware of the Rapture when driver-less cars start crashing on the freeway. She gets out to investigate, and somebody steals her car. Let this be a lesson to you all. In the event of a zombie apocalypse or the Rapture, take your keys with you when you exit your car.
Steele turns the plane around and returns to Chicago. Nobody can figure out why or how all those people disappeared. Obviously they never read the book. Any Trump critter wandering the streets would have immediately said, “I get it. All the Jesus sycophants have been recalled for expired warranties.” Steele goes home to find his wife and his young child gone. The deal, in case you are not up on this stuff, is below a certain age a child is held blameless. I think it’s 8 for girls, 15 for boys. In fact, somebody told me the tale of a 14-year-old boy who killed himself to ensure he would return to the arms of Jesus. Anyhow, all the young children are gone.
Steele reflects. He should have listened to his wife. He should have read the book. That book. The one he is holding in the now-empty bedroom. The book that says:
Judges 19:25-29 King James Version (KJV)
25 But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.
26 Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.
27 And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.
28 And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.
29 And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.
Yes, that book. That book which has been missing from his life. No longer.
People begin to come back to Jesus.
Meanwhile, Williams is working to figure out what all this U.N. business has to do with the Rapture. He gathers with him others who were not raptured. We can see why they were not raptured. They are backsliders and apostates. They drink alcohol and smoke tobacco. And the women wear off-the-shoulder tank tops. Sinful.
A government agent joins Williams to expose the plot. He is murdered with a car bomb.
Williams goes to the U.N. There the plan is revealed. The world will be divided up into regions controlling the world’s food. The Jews will rebuild Solomon’s Temple. The Apocalypse is nigh.
But Williams alerts Rosenzweig and Carpathia to the plot. To no avail. The U.N. grinds toward installing Carpathia as U.N. leader with the plan to take over the world’s food. Williams prays to God for intervention. God intervenes. At the meeting in the U.N. something comes over Carpathia. He takes a pistol from a security guard and murders the two plotters.
Then Carpathia intones a made-up description of the event, and everybody, glassy-eyed, buys into it. God is in control
The seven years of peace have begun. It will be the worst seven years ever experienced by humanity. They must come together. Williams and Chloe come together.
And it’s all about the Rapture:
The rapture is an eschatological concept of certain Christians, particularly within branches of North American evangelicalism, consisting of an end time event when all Christian believers who are alive will rise along with the resurrected dead believers into Heaven and join Christ. Some adherents believe this event is predicted and described in Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians in the Bible, where he uses the Greek harpazo (ἁρπάζω), meaning to snatch away or seize. Though it has been used differently in the past, the term is now often used by certain believers to distinguish this particular event from the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to Earth mentioned in Second Thessalonians, Gospel of Matthew, First Corinthians, and Revelation, usually viewing it as preceding the Second Coming and followed by a thousand year millennial kingdom. Adherents of this perspective are sometimes referred to as premillenial dispensationalists, but amongst them there are differing viewpoints about the exact timing of the event.
All of this is not surprising if you know anything about Kirk Cameron and John Hagee. We have encountered them previously. First Cameron:
Yes, this really is the Bad Movie of the Week. However, I could not resist using that title, because the new title is what this movie is all about, exegesis. All right, I misspelled it. So shoot me.
And darned if I didn’t have to purchase the book just to make sure it was what I thought it was. I did, and it was. And more shades of lunacy I have never before seen. Where to begin? How about if I begin by quoting from Pastor Hagee’s silly book and adding pertinent comments.
Beyond all that, the movie fails on multiple points.
- Cameron’s performance is lukewarm. As usual.
- The plot is thin, preachy, meaningful only to adherents.
- A presumption is viewers will be inclined to conspiracy theories, especially ones involving one-world government and the United Nations. Also the Rapture concept.
Can’t wait to get my copy of the novel. Keep reading.