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Movie Review

A year and a half has passed since hundreds of millions of people vanished from the face of the earth. But one man, Nicolae Carpathia, has stepped into the ensuing chaos and tamed it, bringing the world under his government.

Not everyone, however, trusts the supposedly peace-loving leader's intentions. Two underground—and unconnected—factions, a militia movement and a group of Christians, have organized a resistance. The Christians know Nicolae is anything but a Messiah. He is, in fact, the Antichrist prophesied in Revelation.

That small band of Christians is called the Tribulation Force (given lots of screen time in Left Behind II), and they're intent upon helping others meet Christ and escape Nicolae's deception. Cameron "Buck" Williams is a reporter with far-reaching media and government connections. His soon-to-be wife, Chloe Steele, is a key leader in the Tribulation Force's clandestine activities, such as reclaiming confiscated Bibles. Chloe's father, Rayford, is also a believer—and Nicolae's personal jet pilot.

Left Behind III's pivotal character, however, is the president of the United States, Gerald Fitzhugh. The president has surrendered the military might of the United States to Nicolae's one-world government—known as the Global Community—believing Nicolae alone has the power to promote lasting peace.

But that confidence is shaken by an explosive attempt on the president's life. More seeds of doubt sprout when a militia spy deep in Nicolae's organization helps Fitzhugh see for himself that the world leader is not who he pretends to be—and that he's on the brink of ordering an attack upon America.

Positive Elements

Pastor Bruce Barnes presides over a double wedding ceremony that unites Buck and Chloe, Rayford and Amanda. And their marriages are presented as a point of solidity in a world torn apart by relativism and misplaced loyalties. Rayford later resists the attempts of an old flame to seduce him, despite what his refusal might cost him considering the fact that the woman, Hattie, has the ear of—and shares a bed with—Nicolae.

[Spoiler Warning] Once the president takes a stand, he uses everything at his disposal to resist Nicolae. Christians and militia members put their lives at risk to try to bring down an evil leader. The militia also foils an assassination attempt on the president's life. More significantly ...

Spiritual Content

... Left Behind: World at War is saturated with the gospel message, Scripture passages and spiritual allusions. Isaiah 55:11 is quoted, as is Matthew 12:25. Buck has a vision in which he hears Bruce summarizing several passages from Hebrews 11 and Isaiah 40. The double wedding service includes the reading of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. The two couples' vows to one another refer to God's powerful handiwork. Pastor Barnes tells his friends, "God will decide when our journey is over." Another character quotes Psalm 23. Prayer often precedes action for the Tribulation Force ("Stand still, and wait upon the Lord"). The hymn "When We All Get to Heaven" is sung.

President Fitzhugh tests Buck by interrogating him about his faith. "Do you renounce the name of Jesus Christ?" the president asks. "No, I don't," Buck replies. Much later, Buck talks to the president about Jesus. In an extensive gospel presentation, Buck tells him, "Time is running out. I don't want you to go to hell. God loves you; 2,000 years ago, He proved it. He died to take our punishment so we could be set free. He offers you and I eternal life. If you are willing, God can save you." [Spoiler Warning] Fitzhugh responds with a prayer of repentance in which he accepts Christ.

Elsewhere, newlyweds Buck and Chloe separate to obey the specialized callings God has assigned to each. When Hattie tries to kiss Rayford, he tells her about Jesus. Rayford and Amanda stand strong when Hattie confronts them about their faith and implies that she has the power to turn them in. Amanda responds by giving Hattie her Bible.

When Chloe is desperately ill with a plague, Buck questions God but never loses faith. "This is not the God I know," he exclaims, then angrily demands, "Why did you let this happen, God?" As she weakens, Chloe's father says to Amanda, "She wanted to do God's will, just like you, just like me."

Taking communion, Chloe, Rayford and Amanda discover that something in the wine heals people from the plague that Nicolae has inflicted upon them. Nicolae has the ability to move himself from one place to another nearly instantaneously, and he's preternaturally impervious to bullets and explosions. The president miraculously survives a fall that should have killed him. (He sums up the battle of good vs. evil when he tells Nicolae, "Jesus Christ: The only way to beat you in this life or the next.")

The Tribulation Force breaks into a restricted Global Community warehouse to re-appropriate now-illegal Bibles. One man who gets caught tells his interrogators that he serves "the Son of Man, God Almighty," a response that earns him quick martyrdom. When the president asks Buck why Christians are stockpiling vaccines, he reads from Matthew 24:3, which describes how pestilences will be unleashed in the last days.

Sexual Content

Chloe's wedding vow includes the phrase, "To comfort you with my body and mirror you with my soul." Hattie Durham suggests to Rayford that they have an affair, telling him that she and Nicolae enjoy an open relationship and can take other lovers if they want to do so.

Violent Content

Bodies jerk and twitch as they're hit with machine-gun fire. Plague victims suffer and die. A missile hits a building and incinerates it. A man's neck is broken, and blood is seen on his mouth. Another is shot in the head at point-blank range (the camera switches to a scene of a clay pigeon being shot when the trigger is pulled).

An opening scene shows a partially destroyed White House burning; explosions and the sounds of combat can be heard in the background. Rocket-propelled grenades blow up several SUVs in a presidential convoy. Secret service agents protecting the president are gunned down. Buck is kidnapped, hooded and interrogated at gunpoint. The president and one of Nicolae's goons get tangled up and roll down a staircase. The president shoots another guard several times, killing him.

A Secret Service agent is shot twice and dies, with bloodstains marking the wounds. The president tries to shoot Nicolae, but instead kills one of the leader's nearby guards. Nicolae responds with Darth Vader-like powers, forcing Fitzhugh to put the gun to his head. Nicolae then proceeds to hurl the president out the window, where he lands on a car some 20 stories below.

Crude or Profane Language


Drug and Alcohol Content

The president has a glass of wine with dinner. Several people drink the wine of communion.

Other Negative Elements


From a movie-making perspective, the third cinematic installment of the Left Behind series is the best of the lot, and the unfolding story line involving now-familiar characters should meet devotees' expectations. TV director Craig Baxley's experience at the helm of action series as diverse as Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital and The A-Team is evident. Suffice it to say that World at War offers no shortage of explosions and gun battles (enough, in fact, that the MPAA tagged it with a PG-13 rating and parents of young children should think twice before letting them see it).

That said, there's a spiritual component to this film that's not usually part of my considerations when it comes to concluding thoughts. Several years ago, I heard Jerry B. Jenkins—one of the two Left Behind authors—speak at a conference. He described how God was using the novels in people's lives, saying that he and his co-author, Tim LaHaye, had received nearly 3,000 letters from readers who had trusted Christ because of the books.

Capitalizing on the story's evangelistic potential, the creators of Left Behind: World at War have designed this film very intentionally as a means to proclaim the gospel message. And indeed, it's impossible to miss Buck's clear and in-your-face gospel presentation to President Fitzhugh. Kudos, then, to the filmmakers for knowing exactly what they wanted to accomplish.

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Louis Gossett Jr. as President Gerald Fitzhugh; Kirk Cameron as Cameron "Buck" Williams; Brad Johnson as Rayford Steele; Jessica Steen as Carolyn Miller; Gordon Currie as Nicolae Carpathia; Janaya Stephens as Chloe Steele; Charles Martin Smith as Vice President John Mallory; Arnold Pinnock as Pastor Bruce Barnes; Chelsea Noble as Hattie Durham


Craig Baxley ( )


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Adam R. Holz

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