Movie Review: “Left Behind”

Velvet Case

Religion Editor

Disclaimer: There are spoilers present in this review for those who have not seen this film.

"Left Behind" is a fictional portrayal of a Biblical event which has not yet occurred in real life. It incorporates typical Hollywood elements that take focus away from the true meaning.

This movie is a remake of "Left Behind" starring Kirk Cameron and Brad Johnson that came out in the year 2000. Both movies were based off the "Left Behind" book written in 1995 by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. 

The director of the 2014 "Left Behind" is Vic Armstrong, who is primarily known for being a stunt coordinator in movies such as "Thor," "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "I Am Legend." The list of movies in which he is director is almost non-existent. This might explain why "Left Behind" incorporates a number of action stunts.

Scenes with stunts and special effects include a school bus falling off a bridge and cars smashing through windows of a mall. One very intriguing effect used in the movie is the moment when the rapture actually takes place. Chloe (Cassi Thomson) is hugging her younger brother, and at that instant, the young boy vanishes, leaving his clothes and backpack in Chloe's arms. This unexpected scene caused viewers to gasp in amazement.

The lead role of plane pilot Rayford Steele is played by Nicolas Cage, well known for his acting in "National Treasure" and for winning an Oscar for his role in “Leaving Las Vegas” in 1996. Since Cage has starred in a number of secular movies, it is unusual seeing him as a character in a Christian-based story. Cage's character does not undergo the same degree of heart change as did Brad Johnson, who played the original Rayford Steele character in the 2000 version. This keeps Cage's facade distant from the Lord.

Comparing the 2000 version to the 2014 version, there are some similarities, but many differences. First, both movies use the Steeles as the main family. This family consists of a father, mother, daughter and son. The mother and son go to Heaven while the father and daughter are left behind on earth. The setting of the story is such that the father is flying a plane to London while the rest of the family is back home. The original version has a seemingly short plane scene followed by the father being back home when he discovers the real meaning behind what takes place.

In the new version, practically the entire movie occurs during the course of one day, while the father is flying the plane. The personality of each first-class passenger is also developed throughout the new movie. These characters reveal their past experience with anything to do with God. Over time, they are able to help each other through the horrifying situation.

Biblical details and Jewish history are tied into the 2000 film. However, the recently released movie has more modern aspects and puts little focus on the scriptures that tell about the rapture. There is a sign shown in the new movie which reads "the end is near," but the word "near" is crossed out and replaced with "here." This alludes to there being someone who was using this sign as a warning to unbelievers.

The most disturbing part about the new "Left Behind" is the ending. It was turned into a heroic action scene where the plane has to crash land onto a road that is under construction because it has been losing fuel and all runways are filled with other planes.

After tense circumstances and much worry, the plane skids to a stop. All passengers exit the plane and let out a sigh of relief. Everyone acts as if they are finally safe, yet they are literally left behind. They did not give their lives to the Lord and get caught up to Heaven in the rapture. They are the ones left on earth for the seven years of tribulation. Though due to the amount of stunt effects, the characters act as if surviving a crash landing of a plane was their biggest challenge, when what is yet to come is of much greater concern.