Chloe is a pretty twentysomething who loves her mom, her dad and her kid brother. So it's driving her crazy that her mom's been on this religion kick for so long now. God loves you and the end times are upon us?! Nonsense, Chloe thinks. It just makes her want to scream. But she'll stomach it for tonight. For her dad's sake. You only have a birthday once a year, after all.
What Chloe doesn't realize yet is that her dad, Ray, won't be there for his own party.
A pilot, Ray faked a last-minute call from work and is now walking into the same airport terminal his daughter has just arrived at. He's going to be commanding a flight to London tonight—a trip he's known about for some time. In fact, it's a trip he's been planning for. He's mapped out a romantic tryst far away from his trying wife that will include a night out, flowers and wine, and with any luck the company of a shapely little flight attendant named Hattie.
What Ray doesn't realize yet is that Hattie is well aware of his romantic interest.
In fact, she dresses for it, sways for it, bends-at-the-waist-just-so for it. She knows exactly what Ray's been taxiing toward, and she's standing at the end of the runway waiting for him. After all, that's how you win a ring from your favorite pilot.
What Hattie doesn't realize yet is that Ray already has a ring of his own—that he slips off for every trip after leaving his devoted, loving wife at home.
Ray and Chloe may roll their eyes over Irene's exuberant displays of faith, but the fact of it is, she loves them both so deeply that she finds it almost painful not to explain God's truth to them. Her heavenly Father loves them, He yearns for them, longs for them to see all He has to offer. And Irene goes to her knees in prayer regularly, pleading for help winning over her family. If that causes her to look a little too "religious" to them, then so be it. She'll say anything, do anything to help pry the scales away from their clouded eyes before that final trumpet blows, before the faithful are called up to heaven, before the unrighteous are left behind.
What Irene doesn't realize yet is that—
After all those people disappear in a twinkling for reasons Ray simply can't fathom at first, he's quick to realize how selfish his decisions have been. It's too late to apologize to his missing wife, but he does apologize to Hattie. He makes every effort to reach Chloe to tell her he loves her. And he works doggedly to land his plane (damaged in an accident) without killing everyone onboard.
Chloe risks her life (from the ground) to help her dad with that landing. And when passengers begin to panic, a reporter who goes by the name Buck strives to calm everyone down so no one gets hurt. Buck also talks a woman out of committing suicide.
Through all that, the film makes it plain that we should care more for those around us than for ourselves, and that we should give higher regard to the big-picture things of life like family and faith. From that perspective, a businessman laments all the time he missed with his daughter in the pursuit of wealth.
You've figured out by now that Left Behind is about the Rapture of Christians, an event briefly described in 1 Corinthians 15. Onscreen, with a loud thump and a flash, the faithful vanish. (Note that in the movie's telling, all children are "caught up" with Christ as well.) It takes them a bit longer than you might think, but after the disappearances, Ray, Chloe and others gradually start to realize the truth of God's word. A Muslim passenger begins to pray and suggests that everyone else do the same. A pastor laments that he never truly believed. "You didn't even listen to you!" Chloe says angrily. She eventually tells her absent mom that she has finally seen the error of her ways.
Seen through Chloe's and Buck's and Ray's eyes, Christians are initially portrayed as being a little crazy. Chloe and Buck call them "nutty" and "wacko." When a Christian woman approaches Buck with questions about disasters he's covered and their link to end times prophesy, she's immediately rebuffed by Chloe who scoffs at the idea that anyone would believe in God in the face of all the death and destruction in the world. "How does someone see an earthquake on the news and then try to convince everyone it's a good thing?" Chloe asks Buck. "If you look hard enough, you'll see whatever it is you're looking for," Buck replies.
About his wife's spiritual fervor, Ray quips, "If she's gonna run off with another man, why not Jesus?" Young Raymie, meanwhile, asks his older sister, "Do you think Mom is crazy?" And Chloe tells her mom that God is the reason Dad's not home with them.
Of course, Irene isn't as over-the-top and loopy as she's sometimes made out to be. She's actually very lovingly sincere in her faith and concern for her family.
Ray and Hattie flirt as they edge toward a night together. After he tells her about the night out he's got planned, she suggestively coos, "I am gonna find a way to pay you back." A few low-cut blouses get screen time, and when Chloe stumbles and falls, the camera spies her bra underneath.
After the Rapture, unmanned vehicles run off the road and smash into buildings or other vehicles. An empty school bus falls off a bridge. A small passenger plane hurtles down into a mall parking lot, crashing into Chloe's car and exploding. Crowds of people run screaming through the streets. From a distance we see a city burning.
While looking for Raymie, a large glass window blows out right in front of Chloe. A masked thief then flies out and crumples to the sidewalk, dead at her feet with a shotgun wound in his chest. The store owner then threatens Chloe with the weapon.
Ray barely avoids a head-on collision with a pilotless jetliner. Its tail clips Ray's wing, causing fuel to spew out and erupt. The other craft spirals down in flames. We see a plane skid along a makeshift runway, spraying sparks and plowing through obstacles. As passengers panic and begin storming the cockpit, Ray decompresses the cabin to force everyone back to their seats for oxygen.
Angry, a man acts out, aggressively antagonizing other passengers, snarling at some and threateningly grabbing one cabin companion by the shirt. A woman points a gun at others onboard, demanding answers, then turns it toward herself. Some viewers will conclude that Chloe is trying to kill herself when she climbs up to the very top of a bridge.
Crude or Profane Language
"Gosh" and "Jeez-Louise."
Drug and Alcohol Content
A rich businessman orders a scotch, and a panicked woman slips into the plane's bathroom to pull out a secreted-away bag of drugs.
Other Negative Elements
People begin looting stores and discarded belongings. As noted, Ray has made a bit of a career out of lying to his wife, his daughter and Hattie. Played for laughs, a little person is meanly shoved down a plane's emergency slide, bouncing to the bottom.
To Christians, the cryptic clues found in Scripture about the Rapture can be both exhilarating and puzzling. For nonbelievers, the whole thing is just one big ball of bizarre science fiction. And maybe that's why Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, writers of the Left Behind book series that this pic is based on, set out to shape the Rapture into something of a sci-fi thriller.
This sometimes choppy cinematic reboot (Kirk Cameron starred in a previous series of films that launched in 2000) features Nicolas Cage, Cassi Thomson, Chad Michael Murray and Lea Thompson, giving it a bit more Hollywood shine. It struggles sometimes with plot holes and special effects but tries to make up for that by working hard to raise questions that both the faithful and the faith-seeker can examine and discuss:
Will children and hundreds of thousands or even millions of born-again believers really disappear, leaving behind piles of crumpled clothes and loose dental crowns?
Will a day come when planes actually fall from the skies and civilization comes to a standstill?
Will a puzzled and tearful world be left behind to wrestle with the truth of what the Bible and believers foretold?
Is there something we should all be doing before that actually happens?
Left Behind doesn't leave us with an altar call. Nor does it leave your knuckles white after you watch the disaster unfold. But you can't watch it without wondering what's up with your own spiritual condition.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Nicolas Cage as Rayford Steele; Cassi Thomson as Chloe Steele; Chad Michael Murray as Cameron 'Buck' Williams; Lea Thompson as Irene Steele; Nicky Whelan as Hattie Durham; Major Dodson as Raymie Steele
Vic Armstrong ( )
October 3, 2014
January 6, 2015