Leans toward a biblical worldview
|Faith and/or Biblical Relevance|
|Faith-compatible Depiction of Characters and Character Relationships|
|Faith-compatible Depiction of Situations|
|Family Viewing Suitability|
|view our criteria|
As the market for faith-compatible films aimed at both faith-based and secular audiences continues to grow and mature, the nationwide theatrical release of LEFT BEHIND on October 3rd follows on the heels of the recent Rapture-themed film, THE REMAINING, and the HBO series, The Leftovers. Based on the best-selling Left Behind book series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, with the screenplay by Paul Lalonde and John Patus (LEFT BEHIND trilogy, 2000-2005), this rebooted LEFT BEHIND is directed by stuntman Vic Armstrong (for Harrison Ford, INDIANA JONES series) and stars Nicolas Cage (LEAVING LAS VEGAS, NATIONAL TREASURE, MOONSTRUCK), Lea Thompson, Chad Michael Murray, Cassi Thomson, Nicky Whelan and 2002 American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, with a cameo by Olympic athlete Lolo Jones. LEFT BEHIND offers a faith-compatible focus on one family’s experience of the Rapture as its members find themselves on an airplane, at the shopping mall and at home.
Overall Faith and/or Biblical Relevance
Like many events described in the Bible, the Rapture has captivated human imagination for centuries. Although sparse in detail, it nevertheless generates a level of soul searching that can be fleshed out in myriad ways that allow readers to reflect on their personal standing before God and consider whether they would be left behind or raptured unto Jesus in the blink of an eye.
While LEFT BEHIND sticks closely to the pre-tribulation view that there will be an instantaneous, worldwide disappearance of those who belong to Jesus as End Times events unfold—and asks the all-important and thought-provoking question, “Are you ready?”, it misses a golden opportunity to fully and clearly articulate how one can be prepared to be raptured and avoid the Tribulation.
Faith-compatible Depiction of Characters and Character Relationships
Throughout LEFT BEHIND are a variety of characters largely based on stereotypes. Among the first class passengers of the airliner piloted by father Ray Steele at the moment of the Rapture is an angry dwarf who suggests that the devout Muslim across the aisle is a terrorist, a workaholic father who neglects his family, the delusional wife of a professional football player who tries to commit suicide, an Asian man given to conspiracy theories and a drug-addled woman who is the first person on the flight to correctly conclude that those who have disappeared from the flight were raptured.
In LEFT BEHIND, the two primary Christian characters are largely depicted as pushy and annoying, while skeptics like daughter Chloe Steele and celebrity investigative journalist Buck Williams are initially shown as rational and stable. These characterizations accurately reflect the secular perspective on the biblically orthodox Christian worldview today. Here, the Steele family is shown as being a formerly loving and cohesive unit, with mother Irene’s recent embrace of Christianity being the cause of division and discord—pushing husband Ray to pursue an extramarital affair with a beautiful flight attendant as increasingly angry Chloe stays away from home to avoid Irene’s proselytization.
Positively, Buck’s attraction to Chloe unfolds respectfully and Chloe cherishes her younger brother. And Irene’s loving heart toward her family is revealed by her desire that they might all be saved and ready for the Rapture.
Faith-compatible Depiction of Situations
As scenes of panic unfold around the world, those left behind slowly come to realize that they are now on the other side of the biblical Rapture. While some characters express regrets for not having been prepared and make appropriate apologies to loved ones, sin and repentance are not specifically mentioned. Ironically, the only character who suggests praying to God in the midst of the chaos is the Muslim. Here, a fellow passenger angrily questions to which God he’s referring. In another scene, a pastor mourns the fact that he didn’t practice what he preached and was left behind.
At several points throughout LEFT BEHIND there are references to Bible verses like John 3:16, Matthew 24:7 and Mark 13:32. And when Chloe is searching her family home for Irene and her younger brother, she passes a prayer-themed wall decoration. However, her hard heart toward her mother’s Christian faith causes Chloe to angrily throw her mother’s Bible through a window, shattering the glass.
While most situations in LEFT BEHIND are faith-compatible, some may take issue with the depiction of all babies and children being raptured because of their presumed state of innocence before God. Others will wish that the writers had more explicitly invoked the name of Jesus for salvation.
Family Viewing Suitability
With a PG-13 rating, LEFT BEHIND is suitable for viewing for adults and teens 13 and older with parental supervision. While there is very little objectionable content in the film, some may be uncomfortable with the depictions of two contemplated suicides in the aftermath of the Rapture, implied intravenous drug use by a passenger on the plane, and an extramarital dalliance.
With a mega-hit book series that has sold 60 million copies worldwide, a reported production budget of $15 million and higher-than-usual star power for a faith-based film, LEFT BEHIND was well situated to tell a compelling story that would bring the biblical Rapture to life and engage a new generation with the Gospel. Instead, during its 110 minutes, LEFT BEHIND takes too long to get to the central question of the film: Are you ready for the Rapture?
While there is very little in LEFT BEHIND that is incompatible with a Christian worldview, because of its slow pacing many opportunities to clearly articulate what a right relationship with God looks like—through repentance and faith in Jesus—are lost.