Left Behind: The Movie

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Left Behind: The Movie

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Left Behind: The Movie

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The problem with Biblically founded apocalyptic thrillers, aside from the Apocalypse's tendency to slip away from them, is that they're bound by the prophesies of Revelation, which makes their plots fairly predictable. The film adaptation of the best-selling novel Left Behind follows a pattern almost identical to that of 1999's overtly Christian actioner The Omega Code: The End Times are presaged by the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, as effected by the efforts of a seemingly benevolent U.N. delegate who is, in fact, the Antichrist. Kirk Cameron plays the intrepid GNN (that's Global Network News) reporter who tries to unearth the truth after 100 million people mysteriously disappear, leaving behind their empty clothes and billions of confused family members. Cameron eventually learns that the common thread among those left behind is that they aren't true Christians, but that salvation is still possible for the newly righteous after they endure seven years of Antichrist-sponsored misery. The movie ends just as this struggle begins, but the book series has continued to document the Star Wars-like efforts of a band of rebels working against the evil empire. Future movies might do the same, but only if the first installment makes enough money. To this end, the film's producers have been hammering away at local congregations, shaming believers into "making a statement" by buying tickets to the movie months in advance. For their devotion, the faithful get a competently directed (by Christian-TV veteran Victor Sarin), passably acted (by Cameron, who nevertheless lacks a certain gravity), and largely generic slice of apocalyptica, with none of the creepy-'cause-it's-true chills on which the books' fans depend. What's mainly missing is a focus on character. Given that the plot points are more or less straight from the Bible—only the insidiousness of one-worldism is a specifically right-wing fundamentalist Christian interpretation—a more lively film might have focused on the Rapture's impact on ordinary lives. Instead, this production layers sketchy dogma over an underimagined shoot-'em-up, cheating the folks in the audience who might be hoping for a real revelation.

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