Left Behind” tries hard to succeed as parable and as thriller. It is based not just on the first in a series of best-selling books, but also on the Biblical Book of Revelations, and is is made by people who care as much about teaching their views of the Word of God as they do about making an exciting movie. They do an impressive job.
Kirk Cameron (of television’s “Growing Pains”) plays Buck Williams, a television news correspondent with a big story. An Israeli scientist has discovered a way to feed the world with a special grain that is plentiful, hardy, and inexpensive. He wants to make it available to everyone. But there are powerful and wealthy people who do not want that to happen.
Williams takes an airplane flight piloted by Rayford Steele (Bradford Johnson). Flight attendant Hattie Durham (Chelsea Noble), a friend of Buck’s and Rayford’s mistress, is also on board.
All of a sudden, up in the sky, dozens of passengers simply disappear, leaving their clothes behind. It is even more terrifying down below. Millions of people, as many as a third of all the people on earth, have vanished. Everything is in chaos. No one seems to know what is going on.
Rayford rushes home and finds that the only one left is his daughter, Chloe (Janaya Stephens). His wife and son are gone, leaving only their clothes behind.
Buck and Rayford try to find out what has happened. They get some answers from a minister, who tells them that the people who are gone are the true believers. They are with God, and the rest are left behind.
A minister named Nicolae Carpathia (Gordon Currie) appears to be the pawn of powerful industrialists who want to take advantage of the hysteria to control the food supply. But Nicolae has other plans.
The movie’s script, acting, and production values are not up to the standards of mainstream Hollywood theatrical productions, but it is filmed with a lot of sincerity. Many families, especially those who have a hard time finding movies they are comfortable sharing with their children, will find this to be a worthwhile thriller for older children and a starting point for some important conversations.
Parents should know that the movie has a great deal of violence, including a murder that may be shocking to some people. The disappearance of millions of people and apocalyptic theme is genuinely disturbing, and may be very upsetting to some audiences. There is no bad language, but there are mild references to an extramarital affair.
Families who see this movie should be prepared to talk about its roots in traditional Christian doctrine, and to talk about their own views of faith, God, and heaven. They should also talk about those characters who are deceived by others, and what makes that possible. Why do Buck and Hattie see Nicolae so differently?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Prince of Egupt.