Thanos didn't do it this time.
No, when millions of people just vanished from the face of the earth on an otherwise beautiful day, it wasn't the result of an Infinity Stone Gauntletgrab. The experts would surely scoff at this possible explanation. Well, that's almost as silly (they'd say) as believing that the disappearance was due to themrapture.
But if it's not a Marvel movie and it's not the biblical end times, then what is? And could it happen again?
Intrepid reporter Buck Williams sets out to get to the bottom of this global mystery. But he doesn't get much help. His boss wants him to stop asking so many questions right now.
"The news? It's not about the truth anymore," Buck scolds his girlfriend Chloe Steele. "It's about the message. Like we're scared that [viewers] can't handle the truth."
Chloe and her grieving father, Rayford, focus on a terrifying truth: Half of their family is now gone. Ray's wife Irene; and son Raymie; disappeared with all the millions of others. Again, the world has no explanations.
But here's the thing: Irene told Ray that's exactly what was going to happen. In fact, that was literally prophesied 2,000 years ago. And while the experts say it wasn't the rapture, maybe Ray suspects it - justPerhaps-it was.
But when they disappearwarthe rapture means that other, darker forces are also at work.
The world feels like it's about to collapse after disappearing. Violent crime has increased exponentially. Suicides have increased tenfold. Jonathan Stonagal, the creator of Eden, the world's largest social network, enters the chaos. He has generously (ahem) offered to allow the world to use Eden as the new global banking system - a channel, he says, to ease financial panics and ensure world citizens get what they need.
All it needs to achieve this is the buy-in of two arduous countries: Israel, which needs a Middle East peace treaty to sign; and Romania.
But Romania's charismatic leader, Nicolae Carpathia, wants some very special reassurances from Stonagal before he climbs on board.
And those conditions are going to be a beast to fulfill.
We pay tribute to Buck Williams, a popular cable news personality, who returns to her investigative journalism roots. He's unwilling to take expert talks at face value, and he's determined to find out what's really going on. When a second wave of escapes is said to strike, Buck immediately becomes suspicious. And his investigations lead to some really revealing information. Buck risks both his career and his life to bring these revelations to light.
He's not alone. Buck is joined in his quest for the truth by Dirk, a conspiracy-minded hacker. and Connor, a born-again newcomer to Buck's cable network. All three are willing to go to considerable lengths to uncover the rotten roots behind Eden, and not all of them make the credits.
Speaking of appreciation, let's also give some credit to Ray and Chloe and Bruce Barnes, a pastor of New Hope Church who was inexplicably (but not unexpectedly) left behind. All three had heard of the rapture long before the rapture. In fact, Pastor Barnes had studied it thoroughly. (Religious, one might say.) All three—and millions more—had rejected the truth lurking behind this rapture that Jesus is Lord and Savior.
We will address the more explicit spiritual journeys our protagonists are on in the following section. But let's just acknowledge here that it takes courage to admit when you're wrong.
And while the rest of the world continues to live in denial, these three, along with several others we meet, understand that they have rejected a truth that they should not only have accepted, but embraced and cherished. And by the end of the film, she and others are determined to break down a new, tougher path and take as many other people with them as possible.
Apparently,Left behind: Rise of the Antichristis explicitly Christian. It's based on the incredibly popular by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkinsleft behindBook series itself based on how many interpret the Book of Revelation and other prophetic writings. It's not heronlyInterpretation - but it is probably the most popular understanding among many evangelical Christians today.
And certainly most of the events we see here are meant to point directly back to Scripture. For example, when characters wonder about Eden's role in Bible prophecy, Pastor Barnes refers to Revelation 13:16-17, which indicates that "no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast, or the number of its name.” Another example: We hear 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 quoted where the apostle Paul speaks of how during the rapture the dead “will rise first,” followed by the living . To underscore this truth, a character digs up the grave of a deceased loved one to confirm that Paul was right. We could point to many, many other cases, but this gives you a taste.
WhileRise of the Antichriststresses that the bad times are just beginning - we haven't even reached the hard tribulations - they are mounting. A narrator reminds us, "Jesus told us that the world would hate Christians" as the film shows a devastated church. "All Souls Matter" is scrawled on the marquee. Inside, the accusation "God is dead" is scrawled on the walls in red paint, and a pig's head with a crown of thorns hangs on the cross.
"Why do people who don't even believe in God suddenly hate him so much?" The narrator speculates. "Because they can't blame anyone else."
But amidst this destruction and persecution are some moments of spiritual beauty. A pastor offers hope and encouragement via video despite being raptured himself. “Whatever is in store for you on earth,” says the pastor, “it is not too late. You can still spend eternity in heaven.” Several people profess Christ throughout the film, most reciting some version of the sinner's prayer. Pastor Barnes admits, "I may have given up on God, but I am humbled to know that God has not given up on me."
We hear others reading Bible verses and see many used Bibles on the screen. Some pre-conversion characters refer to the Bible as "that stupid book" and its followers as "religious crackpots." Chloe tells her father, "I'm really not in the mood for church," and hangs up; but a kind woman manipulates circumstances to get Chloe into church anyway. A Jewish man talks about his own faith while wearing a kippah, and we hear a few references to the Dome of the Rock, the Islamic holy site that sits where Solomon's temple once stood. We learn that Solomon's Temple was originally built right next door - and there are plans (in the film) to build a massive temple on top of itrealoriginal page.
In the books, former pilot Rayford Steele admits that he had a "wandering eye" before the Rapture, and we meet the flight attendant on whom his eye landed.
Hattie unexpectedly visits Ray's home wearing a work outfit that shows her back and lots of leg. She wraps her arms suggestively around Ray's neck, but Ray pulls away. "What almost happened between us doesn't matter now," he tells her. "I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and you cannot find the truth without Him."
Chloe and Buck are also dating, but the most physical affection we see between the two is the occasional hug or touch.
A man dies in an explosion. Three people are murdered - shot. (Guns are being fired elsewhere, too.) We hear that one of Buck's co-workers allegedly committed suicide (though the film suggests that's probably not true).
Someone is attacked by a knife-armed mugger. The would-be thief knocks the victim down and cuts her arm open and we see some blood. (Later, the victim is told the cut doesn't even need stitches — just a bit of antibiotic. We see the wound a bit more as it's being treated.) She sprays the robber's face with maces, and he ends up running away.
We learn that Pastor Barnes was also attacked by the same people who destroyed his church. He's lying in a pew when Ray finds him - apparently not unconscious, but with a bruised jaw.
We see news clips that hint at the global chaos and violence - albeit the mostactuallyViolence we see seems to be limited to scenes of fires burning in the street and riot police brandishing batons and so on. Buck also confronts his boss with horrific footage of people jumping to their deaths for use on his show. However, we do not see this footage.
We see the feet of an otherwise unseen character slowly moving towards what appears to be a ledge of a building while the narrator tells us of a drastic increase in suicides. In a news program we learn that the number of murders has increased by 300% and the number of suicides by 1,000%. (It's been called a "pandemic of evil.")
The film's finale features a high-speed car chase.
Raw or profane language
We hear two uses of the word "h—".
drug and alcohol content
Stonagal and Nicolae Carpathia sip what appears to be whiskey while discussing their plot to essentially take over the world's entire financial system.
Andere negative Elemente
Rise of the Antichristwas obviously updated from the original books (written in a time before social media was a thing). We hear many references to more modern events, particularly COVID (both overt and more subtle nods). And while these more political innuendos aren't necessarily "negative," they're certainly ubiquitous, depending on your point of view.
When a handful of characters ask Pastor Barnes who or what to trust in this age of misinformation, Barnes tells them this:
"Trust God. Trust Jesus. Trust the Bible. And for literally everyone else, take what they tell you and weigh it against the Word. And then pray, pray, pray. For God's help, for not in to be misled.”
It's in moments like these whenLeft behind: Rise of the Antichrist, is at its strongest – when leaning against the ultimate truth of the film and the greatest truth of all. It's best when the characters are on their knees, like the rest of us should always be.
Rise of the Antichristalso has some other strong moments in it. Writing can feel fresh and even funny; it moves at a pretty good pace, as a thriller should. And it comes with some pretty decent acting too. (Neal McDonough, who plays Stonagal, is always a captivating presence on screen, whether in secular or spiritual films.)
But it's still a bit uneven. To me, the film's socio-political innuendos slowed the pace and felt not only unnecessary but distracting. And fans of the book – presumably the primary target audience forRise of the Antichrist— may find the film's deviations from the work of LaHaye and Jenkins distracting.
I want this series to continue. Theleft behindbooks weresucha phenomenon back in the day. And because they were written as apocalyptic adventure thrillers, the source content lends itself to cinema.Rise of the Antichristfeels like a modest step upleft behindMovies that came before - but I think future iterations can be even better.
Parents, get practical information from a biblical worldview to help make media decisions easier for your kids!
Find out more and subscribe here!