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IN SHORT: More fun than Sunday School but not much different. [Rated PG-13 for violence.]
We don't compare to Source Material, in this case the series of Christian novels by LaHaye and Jenkins. We do know our Bible, however, and are more than familiar with the concept of The Rapture. Left Behind is a movie that begins with an interesting mystery and ends up preaching to the audience in a manner that isn't nearly subtle enough to entertain non-born again Christians, who are the only audience for it.
Cameron "Buck" Williams (Kirk Cameron) is an ace investigative reporter for "GNN". We meet him in an Israeli desert, where scientist Dr. Chaim Rosenzweig (Colin Fox) is demonstrating "The Eden Project," a secret formula that will allow food to grow on any type of land. That's just the first of three surprises in store for Buck this day. The second is that underneath the Project is an Israeli Army war room whose electronics have gone haywire just prior to a sneak air attack from the North. As the multitude of flying engines of destruction converge on Jerusalem, they are mysteriously blasted out of the air. The Israelis haven't been able to fire a single anti-aircraft missle, so who could be their Protector?
Nah, forget about that bit. Let's get to a different story, that of airline Captain Rayford Steele (Brad Johnson) who has two kidlets and a wife with whom there are troubles. On a flight from his homebase in Chicago, his crew is baffled by the mysterious disappearance of all the kidlets and a good number of passengers on the plane. It isn't just his plane, it's every plane in the sky. Passengers missing. Air traffic controllers vanished. Car crashes everywhere -- vanished drivers, of course. World wide panic and a final body count of 142 million people missing. What could have caused such a Disappearance?
Don't ask me. Left Behind lost this Member of the Tribe when the Israelis didn't retaliate. More on that in a 'graph or two.
Steele returns home, with passenger Buck in tow. His wife and son are missing. His daughter isn't. The congregation at the local church is gone, but Pastor Bruce Barnes (Clarence Gilyard) is still there, cursing himself for "knowing but not Believing." There's also a huge conspiracy at work here. involving "international bankers" Jonathan Stonagal and Joshua Cothran, who have secretly made huge loans to the United Nations. They intend to call their markers and install their own puppet Secretary General, Nicolae Carpathia (Gordon Currie). Anyone who gets in the way, will be disposed of. Their cover? Well, they're really good guys who bankrolled the Eden Project and have swayed the Jewish scientist Rosenzweig with plans for the Restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem!
The UN as bad guys and "international bankers" leading a "one world" conspiracy. All signs of the rise of the Anti-Christ and of a coming Armageddon. And we've been hearing the same shtick for years, since Herbert W. Armstrong paraded across the teevee screen with "documentary evidence" that the European Common Market was the foretold "one world" base to the Anti-Christ. Once upon a time, way before that, it was the Catholic Church that was the secret home to the A-C. It didn't happen then and the world didn't end at the end of the Millenia, either.
Reality check number two, folks. Jews don't want to rebuild the Temple. I'm not making a joke when I say it's against our religion. There are ultra-Orthodox groups in Israel that won't take up arms to defend the state but would to stop any rebuilding effort. That land is Sacred and we cannot walk upon it. Likewise, on the non-religious front, any country fool enough to attack Israel would take serious damage in return. Reality Check number three, no Arab nation would be fool enough to try to destroy Jerusalem, their third holiest site and home to the Dome of the Rock.
You've got to have your nose buried knee deep in the Good Book to buy into this movie. Then again, those that are Born Again have been able to buy Left Behind on video since last October, so the market is about as pre-sold and saturated as it can be. It will probably increase their enjoyment to see it on the big screen, but that's about as limited a market you can get.
As with kidlet movies, destined for rental, or gay-themed flicks which posit ideas that are quite beyond us, there will be no dollar ranking on Left Behind. If you are the market, you will see it if you haven't already bought it. If you haven't purchased it, you can do so below. If you are not, there isn't much to put this at a level higher than a cheaply made cable TV movie, fit only for rental if you happen to be curious (or a fan of teevee's Kirk Cameron and his wife, Chelsea Noble who plays temptress to Captain Steele's eye, and later an aide at the UN).
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