Left Behind: The Movie (2000)

Genres - Thriller, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Message Movie, Religious Drama  |   Release Date - Feb 2, 2001 (USA)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - Canada   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Any overtly religious film has the potential to provoke anger, especially among those expecting anti-Semitism to rear its unfortunate head. But Left Behind is a reasonably inoffensive way of addressing a plot that's not much different from a dozen mainstream studio films: a Biblical prophecy comes true in modern times. This is not to say the film inspired by the wildly successful fundamentalist novels is actually good; it just doesn't yield many controversial moments, nor many howlers, for those seeking a good laugh. In this way, it's a little boring. The B-level personnel and execution is never that distracting, even Kirk Cameron as Buck Williams, the hilariously named intrepid reporter. And it doesn't actually have much of the pious dialogue that polarizes audiences, until the very end. Before then, there's some genuinely unsettling stuff surrounding the disappearance of millions, who are later revealed to be the "true believers." Where the film goes wrong, losing awareness of its agenda, is in the spiritual awakenings of skeptics like Williams, and Brad Johnson's airline pilot. One of the basic tenets of religion is that it's based on faith, meaning the absence of observable proof, but these two central characters convert to godliness only because they're confronted by a preponderance of evidence. With the Bible's words borne out with blow-by-blow accuracy, the film makes it impossible not to attribute such scientific impossibilities to a heavenly influence. The sinners don't choose to repent -- logic forces them to, as an attempt to buy their way into Heaven. Maybe it's Left Behind's devout audience that should be frustrated, rather than its secular one.