Having spent an afternoon watching this PG-13 video, I can vouch for the critical reviews of the most expensive Christian movie ever produced.
The most compelling segment of Left Behind is at the very beginning when a TV reporter covers a startling scientific development in Israel that will end world hunger.
Believable frames are replaced with one of the most unbelievable military attacks in movie history. The attack of tanks, helicopters and fighter planes reveals inferior production values which harm the entire film.
The movie’s central character (a reporter for GNN), his crew and the scientist flee from the miracle wheat field for the safety of an Israeli high command center.
But the courageous reporter soon ventures out of the military shelter, where he meets an aged man dressed like an Old Testament figure. This prophet of doom warns, “War will continue until the end. Desolations have been decreed.” He also utters the key phrase for all rapture addicts, “seven years,” a phrase that is continually repeated through the movie.
The plot thins with cryptic dialogues about global currency, bankers, world peace, the United Nations and the antichrist.
The post-rapture scenes show a dog on a leash without its owner and injured motorists. All infants and children vanish. TV news agencies report that 142,380,000 people have disappeared.
One of the movie’s underlying themes is that the Bible is a codebook for the 21st century. Characters cite Ezekiel, Daniel and Thessalonians to explain what has happened and will happen.
Several key characters do make faith professions in God, although they do not explicitly place their faith in Jesus Christ, an oddly missing message for a movie being heavily hyped in the evangelical community.
At the end of the video, the star, Kirk Cameron, expressed the hope that Left Behind will send a wake-up call to Hollywood that America demands films with spiritual messages.
The movie is unlikely to achieve that objective, and it should not. As an artistic work, this feature-length movie is as flawed as the flawed theology upon which it is based. The best course of action is for Christians to leave Left Behind on the video shelf and avoid it in theaters.
Robert Parham is BCE’s executive director.