Left Behind

on February 02, 2001 by Christine James
This heavy-handed Christian drama would likely have been just another Pax TV-brand movie of the week were it not for 1999's relatively successful run of "The Omega Code," a similar niche picture whose attendance was bolstered by in-church promotions. Talk about preaching to the choir. Here, ace reporter Buck Williams (Kirk Cameron, best known as Mike Seaver from the '80s TV sitcom "Growing Pains"--an ironic title given its star's perplexing immunity to age) is in Israel investigating the miraculous invention of scientist Dr. Chaim Rosenzweig (Colin Fox), whose "Eden" formula, which makes desert lands cultivatable, promises to end world hunger. An air strike interrupts their live, on-camera interview, but Buck boldly continues to broadcast, documenting the mayhem--while failing to convey even a modicum of fear as bombs explode on the Universal Studios soundstage-looking sand-strewn landscape around him. Inexplicably, some of the jets disappear, though a counter-attack had not yet begun. Thus, Buck and friends survive the assault--only to face nothing less than the onset of the Apocalypse.

   When the world's children and devout Christians are spontaneously transported to Heaven in a phenomenon known as the Rapture, leaving behind all those deemed to be unbelievers in the eyes of the Lord, the world is thrown into a state of pandemonium. The solution, we are told, is to "have faith," a course of action which is most implausibly and even laughably demonstrated when an adulterous father (an unsympathetic Brad Johnson) finds God after his wife and son vanish, transforming instantaneously from self-absorbed lecher into a Stepfordesque Bible-thumper.

   The intimation that even those who are supremely noble and well-intentioned are doomed to hell on Earth if they have an agnostic or even simply non-Christian thought in their head is rather odious and comes off as spiritual blackmail. But all dogma aside, the amateur-hour acting, just plain silly villains, rote conspiracy elements and a moralizingly simplistic ending that could have been lifted from an episode of "Davey and Goliath" are the real reasons why this film will be left behind by general audiences. Starring Kirk Cameron, Brad Johnson, Chelsea Noble and Colin Fox. Directed by Victor Sarin. Written by John Bishop. Produced by Ron Booth, Joe Goodman, C. Robert Neutz and Ralph Winter. A Cloud Ten release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for violence. Running time: 98 min.

Tags: Starring Kirk Cameron, Brad Johnson, Chelsea Noble, Colin Fox. Directed by Victor Sarin. Written by John Bishop. Produced by Ron Booth, Joe Goodman, C. Robert Neutz, Ralph Winter, Cloud Ten, Drama

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