Over the weekend, I went to go see Left Behind. That’s right, I paid for a goddamn ticket to see Left Behind. (The things I do for you people…)
We’ll be discussing the movie on the podcast soon, but I wanted to get a few thoughts out while it’s all fresh in my mind.
And if you’re unfamiliar with the story — lucky you — here it is in a nutshell: The Rapture occurs and the True Believers, sans clothes, are suddenly taken up to Heaven while all hell breaks loose on Earth. Those “Left Behind” are left to figure out what happened.
So was the film as bad as the critics says? Of course it was. That was never in doubt.
But what was questionable was whether or not this really qualifies as a Christian film. There was some heavy-handed Bible-thumping in the first few minutes, but Christianity (and the Rapture) were really just plot points around which to build the film. The story is really about a pilot dad (Cage) who has upset his family for a variety of reasons and wants to make things right… but after the Rapture, he really just needs to land his plane safely. (Apparently, thanks to Christian logic, not only do all babies get raptured, but so do all satellites and air traffic controllers.)
The bulk of the movie is about whether or not Cage can land the plane. The rest of it is about people trying to figure out where the hell their loved ones went. (It’s like that movie Identity, where the main characters are all trying to figure out what they have in common.)
God is nothing but an extra in the film. Right before the closing credits rolled, a Bible verse appeared on the screen, as if to remind us this was supposed to be about religion (since we all forgot).
Other hints that this was supposed to be a faith-based film were very subtle. There was no swearing (which would be odd in a world where people suddenly vanished…) and the Christian characters were portrayed as crazy. The only real giveaways were the trailer for an upcoming Kirk Cameron movie and the stereotypes we’ve come to expect from Christian movies. Those left behind included a gambler, an adulterer, a drug user, a Jew, a Muslim, and a whole bunch of looters. The only compelling character was a pastor who didn’t get raptured — and he was only in one scene.
The movie had almost nothing to do with the popular book series, which focuses on what happens post-Rapture. Maybe that’s for the best, but I have to wonder: If producers weren’t catering to Christians, then who was this movie for?
It sure as hell wasn’t for me.
I think my wife enjoyed it, though. She muttered something about “divorce papers” as we were leaving the theater, but I assume that was just in reference to Cage’s broken marriage in the film.