Based on advertisements for the movie Left Behind (Cloud Ten), the plot promised to be an intriguing apocalyptic thriller following a journalist in search of the truth. But advertisements do not always tell the whole story, as the movie based on a New York Times Bestseller became more of a forum for religious ideology than compelling action flick.
As far as plot, the story begins as journalist Buck Williams, played by Kirk Cameron from “Growing Pains,” takes a plane flight to investigate a story for his television network, the cleverly named DNN. On the flight a number of passengers disappear into thin air, leaving only their clothing behind.
Buck and the plane’s pilot, Rayford Steele (Brad Johnson), work to pacify passengers and eventually land the plane. Upon landing Buck discovers that similarly disturbing disappearances have taken place all across the world, so many that millions are now missing. This chain of events could set the scene for an exciting adventure in which Buck and Rayford search for missing persons en masse, but instead the film takes a much different turn.
After the initial introduction, Left Behind ceases to be a mystery-thriller and quickly becomes an overdose of religious propaganda.
Left Behind is more about Buck and Raymond’s discovery of Christian ideals than anything else. A great deal of screen time is spent actually reading from another bestseller, the Bible. The Book of Revelations is used as a guide for the story’s events.
To say that Left Behind is preachy would be an understatement. The film gets in your face, painting a picture of everlasting doom for those who do not accept Christianity.
Quality filmmaking or acting does not make up for the film’s from-the-pulpit tone. Kirk Cameron gives an uninspired performance to present an overall unconvincing character. Despite its budget of $17.4 million, the movie’s special effects are minimal and leave much to the imagination. The plot is predictable and offers nothing new. What sets Left Behind apart, and also makes it a truly bad movie, is the ferocious way in which religious ideals are presented.
There is a great deal driving Left Behind that may not be apparent to the casual observer. The movie, which opens in theaters Friday, has been available on video for quite a while. Its big-screen release is part of a campaign funded partly by Evangelist churches to advance the movie’s message. Left Behind offers a logistical outline for the way the apocalypse could take place in contemporary society, using scare tactics as a way of converting viewers.
A nationwide campaign surrounds the movie’s release. Churches across the nation have united to sponsor premieres in major theatres. Filmmakers aim to open the movie in every city in the country, according to the movie’s official Web site.
The bottom line is that Left Behind is not what it may seem to be. Fans of the book series know what to expect and may enjoy it, but those who are not familiar with the content of this movie should take note before running out to the theater. Left Behind is not a fun Friday night movie, but rather an overzealous sermon that will leave many viewers feeling shocked and misled.