To my non-Christian reader, please don’t see this stupid movie, which, as Wikipedia says, “is based on the novel of same name, which is based on a novel interpretation of Bible prophecy without support from any significant theological tradition . . . ” If you are interested in Christianity, please read the Bible, find a Christian friend, or go to a church that believes this movie to be absurd.
Jesus. That right there’s a word that is not uttered during the current ridiculous rapture-fiction movie Left Behind, that if you spend a penny on, I will disown you. Furthermore, there is not even an oblique reference to the Son of God in this movie. Not even a “he” or “him” that might direct us Christward. The closest we got was, “Jeez!” and that’s, you know, not close.
Cross. Another word not spoken or even intimated.
Savior. Ditto, and there’s no need to go on about how much this movie is not a Christian movie. It’s not close. Plus, dwarf tossing.
Leaving Christianity out of it, there’s the slight possibility this movie could be categorized as tangentially religious. That is, the kindest, most Christlike individual in the movie is a Middle Eastern man who displays a heart for God and for a confused elderly woman suddenly alone. Given that, the movie could possibly be an advertisement for Islam, because when all those left behind are losing their minds, Islam provided a man the wisdom to say, “Let’s pray,” and the compassion to say, “Let me help you.”
Leaving that discussion aside–and no, I have no interest in anyone’s views of pre-, mid-, or post-tribulation rapture, nor do I care what your millennial position is–let’s move to a discussion of how bad this movie is.
The script is terrible. The acting is bad. The Christians (we meet two) are whiny women pushing their faith, sans Gospel, to everyone who passes by, as in, “Hi, Honey, thanks for flying all the way from California to NYC for the weekend, why won’t you listen to my unrelenting proselytizing, so I can convert you to an unnamed religion that has no content?”
Here’s something: there are two blonde women. One is a flight attendant who is hot for Pilot Rayford Steele (Mr. Cage). The camera lingers on her legs as she gets out of her car at the airport. Question: in how many movies are we subjected to this “Introduction to Woman by seeing her well-shod foot and then her shapely leg come out of a car?” and–follow up question–was it ever better done than in 101 Dalmatians (Ms. Close) and in The Devil Wears Prada (Ms. Streep) or is that simply a distillation of the sort of movies I enjoy?
This flight attendant, whose name I forget–and you’ll want to forget it too, along with so many many other things if you see this movie–is a bad girl. She wants to go to a U2 concert with Pilot Steele with dessert to follow. To show her badness, the director has her wearing a very tight blouse, you know, where it pulls across the bust and is threatening to pop at every moment. Because beautiful young women who want to land a pilot are bad and immodest. I’ve never seen a flight attendant with a bust about to bust, but then again, I’ve never been a movie director trying really hard to point out each person’s personality because I believe my audience is too stupid to notice, or possibly I prefer perusing the Sky Mall than staring at stewardesses.
The other blonde woman is Captain Steele’s daughter Chloe. The director of this “Christian” movie decided to shove a camera down her top a couple of times, so we can be crystal-clear on the idea that non-Christian girls show their ta-tas whenever they can, because immodesty.
But wait, there is an actual story. SPOILER ALERT and here goes:
Once upon a time, there was a family with a Daddy and a Mommy and a daughter and a son. The family lives in New York City, but the daughter goes to the University of California at Riverside. The daughter flies home for the father’s birthday, but alas, the father is a horrible man who is in love with the flight attendant because he’s sick of his wife’s newfound faith that she is aggressively marketing to everyone 24/7. Instead of being home for his birthday, he’s taken an extra shift so he can bounce to London to take in some Bono with Blondie and her ’bout-to-burst blouse.
Chloe runs into a CNN-esque journalist named Buck at the airport who instantly falls in love with her, because nationally-known journalists always fall in love with co-eds they randomly bump into at airports. Turns out, Buck happens to be getting on the flight captained by Daddy. Right before he gets on the flight, a random airport security guard drives by in the little cart with the U2 tickets and says, “Give these to Captain Steele. Took me two weeks to get them.” Because it takes 2 weeks to get tickets and you always ask random security guards to get them for you instead of going online.
Speaking of technological fails–no stubhub.com–no one on the plane has a cell phone, except Buck, “Cuz I’m a photojournalist,” and Captain Steele, “Cuz I’m the pilot,” words someone actually wrote into the script.
Most of the action happens in First Class, because that’s where the photojournalist is, he who doesn’t bother heading back to coach when The Rapture happens to take pictures of what’s going on there. He’s content to sit with the ten or so others who turned left before they were left behind.
In First Class, we have two extremely fat individuals, and I get that. Overeating is the Evangelical drug-of-choice, so we know those guys were totally saved. There’s a cute little girl, an old couple, a blonde druggie (who thinks the whole experience is a bad trip until she does cocaine in the forward lavatory and then remembers Bible camp), and a little man of very short stature who stands on the armrest to access the overhead bin and makes threats against the nice Muslim man who asks if he can help.
The Rapture Occurs.
At which time, a number of people go missing from the plane, including an infant out of his mother’s arms. People scream and cry, but then shut up and sit down when they are told by the Captain, “Wherever these people went, we will find them,” certainly a helpful thought. Mothers calm down and when we see them later, their eyes are not red, nor are their cheeks wet, because when women lose their children in First Class and someone tells them to calm down, they obediently sit and wait quietly without collapsing into soul-wracking sobs, because that’s just like real human nature.
Down on the ground, Chloe has abandoned her mother and taken her little brother to the mall where he disappears because he’s about four seconds from the Age of Accountability, too bad for his classmates who are three days older. Chloe is actually hugging him when The Rapture Occurs, and his clothes are left in her arms, but then she goes all over the place trying to find him, because when someone disintegrates in your arms and leaves their clothes behind, probably they have run away and want you to find them.
Chloe goes out to the car which is run into by a plane. Her car is now destroyed, so she runs home. Several minutes later–she’s almost home–a school bus runs off the road, because driverless school buses can go for maybe ten minutes before they drive off a bridge.
Skipping a lot of nonsense, let’s get to the real hardcore stupid:
Oh no! Captain Steele collides with another plane in the sky! His wing is hurt (the other guy goes down in flames) and he’s losing fuel, so he has to turn back to JFK, because he’s less than half way to London. Shoot, he’s going to miss that U2 concert, but so is everyone else, because Bono believes in Jesus and actually says so, unlike anyone in this movie.
Air Traffic Control tells the Captain that there are no available runways, because they are crammed with planes. No room at LaGuardia either. There might be room at Syracuse, but he doesn’t have fuel to get that far. He can’t land in the ocean, because he lost his elevators and his last name isn’t Sullenberger. Nothing can be done. It’s all over. They are going to crash.
But wait!!! Chloe, after climbing to the top of a bridge to throw herself off in her despair over losing her brother and mother, realizes that everything depends on her. Only she can save her father and his planeload of unraptured people. She steals a left-behind motorcycle (bonus teaching: bikers can be saved!), then a truck, and all by her lonesome clears a mile of empty not-quite-constructed-freeway on which a 400-ton airplane can safely land. The plane stops just an inch or two from a tanker truck that is marked “Flammable,” causing my audience to burst into laughter.
Now comes the dwarf tossing. Blondie opens the emergency escape slide and urges everyone to get going. The little man hesitates at the top just long enough for someone behind him (whom we don’t see) to give him a nudge that makes him fly off onto the slide. Uncomfortable laughter, because come on, you morons, what were you thinking?
Everyone gets off the plane, and someone says, “Wow, glad that’s over,” while the now in-the-know Chloe (who has run up to hug first the journalist she met for five minutes a few hours ago and then her father who raised her and nearly perished in the ocean) says, “No, it’s just beginning. Stay tuned for the Tribulation.” Or something like that.
Then–and I kid you not, people–the music starts and it’s Larry Norman’s “I wish we’d all been ready,” that classic from our childhood that we used to sing in Sunday School (in Cali! in Cali! I know my readers from the East Coast certainly did not ever hear this song in Sunday School, and they’re all better off for it.): “Life was filled with guns and war, and everyone got trampled on the floor. I wish we’d all been ready . . . ” (We also got to sing “Pass it on” and “Love Him in the Morning,” the latter with hand motions.)
Rotten Tomatoes gives Left Behind a 2% fresh rating, which means “the worst movie ever.” The lone reviewer who gave this a fresh tomato is Diana Saenger, whose favorite movies are “Shawshank Redemption” and “Pretty Woman.” I’d direct you to Shawshank Redemption for a film about redemption, perseverance, friendship, faith, hope, and love, and to Pretty Woman for a parable on a bridegroom coming for his bride.
The only reason to see this Christless, Crossless, Gospel-less piece of “let’s milk a few more dollars out of those foolish books” movie-making is to laugh at it, and there are so many many other ways of having a good time.
To anyone who would say, “Yeah, but this movie is just to provide talking points so we can start talking about Jesus,” are you serious? Is there no other way you could possibly do that, because there are so many things wrong with this movie–didn’t you love the cockpit door that keeps getting opened and shut as if this movie was made before 9/11?–and your conversation will be stuck fast in the idiocy of the movie and be hard pressed to move along to the Bible that probably does not include a Rapture in any case. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about The Rapture (see below), and no, I’m not allowing comments here. I know what you’re going to say.
The term “Rapture” is used in at least two senses. In the pre-tribulation view, a group of people will be left behind on earth after another group literally leaves “to meet the Lord in the air.” This is now the most common use of the term, especially among fundamentalist Christians and in the United States.The other, older use of the term “Rapture” is simply as a synonym for the final resurrection generally, without a belief that a group of people is left behind on earth for an extended Tribulation period after the events of 1 Thessalonians 4:17.This distinction is important as some types of Christianity never refer to “the Rapture” in religious education, but might use the older and more general sense of the word “rapture” in referring to what happens during the final resurrection.