Why remake a Left Behind film?
Why would people go see it?
Why did I watch it?
I watched because I was ‘professionally’ obligated. I personally think the Timothy LaHaye/Jerry B. Jenkins series of apocalyptic fiction and the subsequent Kirk Cameron vehicle were bad enough, from both a narrative perspective and a theological one. But still, the Left Behind series is what Christians around the US will be funneled toward in October by churches with a certain look at The Book of Revelation, and I felt I had to watch.
In our updated version, Cameron Williams (Chad Michael Murray), an investigative reporter, and Chloe Steele (Cassi Thomson) meet in the midst of a heated airport discussion over the problem of evil. Unfortunately, those who represent the god we’re shown here say that evil can be explained away because we live in a fallen world, while those who question the goodness of God, bring a series of issues to mind that make sense. (In fact, the nonbelievers ask questions I ask all the time, and find comfort in something deeper than, “the world sucks and we’re all waiting to die.”)
And then, on an intercontinental flight to London, pilot Radford Steele (Nicholas Cage) is trying to hookup with one of his stewardesses but his plane experiences ‘the rapture’ with Williams aboard. Meanwhile Chloe jostles verbally with her mother, Irene (Lea Thompson), about how Irene’s religious beliefs are tearing her family apart moments before the same rapture takes her little brother from her arms.
What is most terrifying, besides the way that this film segues from back-to-school special-like dramedy to a terrifying post apocalypse (for scary, try The Remaining— this just seems to be mysterious, at least at first), is that the average American Christian seems to think this is a Biblical film, not two men’s interpretation of a series of chapters in The Book of Revelation. I’d tell you what some Christian theologians think Revelation is really about but I don’t want to blow your mind…
Let’s just say that I found the acting to be as bad as the plot. I expected, somehow, that the acting, special effects, and overall package would exceed that of the 2000 Left Behind: The Movie. (I know, I know, what’s the last quality film Nicholas Cage made?) But go read the Book of Revelation and read the Gospel of Matthew (or Mark, Luke, or John) and take it in context, not in the vacuum of scare tactic theology that LaHaye and Jenkins subscribe to. And recognize that money is a great motivator, and people will pay to go see this movie.
What’s most telling, from the film’s own script, is that the majority of people left behind do not immediately subscribe to “oh my goodness, I need to get saved, because it’s the end of the world and Jesus is coming!” No, they think that aliens have invaded, or that terrorists have created a weapon, or that some kind of natural disaster has occurred. They don’t immediately sense that their terror at the strange absences is punishment or warning, because it doesn’t seem that they recognize the connection; is that because no one has lovingly taken the time to share the Bible, the good news with them? Instead, this resorts to the shock tactics that street corner evangelists and Duck Dynasty resorts to, and I imagine it will leave the average non-Christian thinking that the Bible is laughable if this is what Christians really think.