3 Things You Should Know about 'Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist'

Buck Williams is an experienced television journalist who is searching for the truth in a world full of fear and lies.

Six months ago, millions of people – representatives of every country on the planet – disappeared, instantly, without a trace.

It was, Williams tells viewers, the “single most catastrophic event in all of human history.” Unfortunately, though, there are “still more questions than answers.”

Some people believe aliens caused it. Others posit that the government is behind the disappearances. Still, others believe that a new technology is to blame.

A few people even theorize that the vanishings were predicted thousands of years ago in an ancient book, the Bible

Who is right? And will Williams ever uncover the truth?

The new film Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist follows the story of Williams and others as they try to survive in a world that is quickly unraveling.

Here are three things you should know about the movie:

Photo courtesy: ©Fathom Events, used with permission

Left Behind poster

1. It’s a Sequel to the 2014 Film

Rise of the Antichrist is a sequel to the 2014 film Left Behind, both of which are based on the bestselling novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins and which imagine what the world will be like in the days surrounding the return of Jesus and the Rapture. The novels and films are based on what theologians call a pretribulation, premillennial interpretation of the Bible’s passages about the Last Days. (Other categories of interpretation include amillennialism and postmillennialism, both of which differ dramatically from the Left Behind plot.)

As Rise of the Antichrist opens, Earth’s residents are in a state of confusion following the sudden disappearance of millions of individuals. (Media companies have dubbed it “The Vanishing.”) Rayford Steele, an airplane pilot, lost his wife. Bruce Barnes, a pastor, also lost friends and family – although he himself was left behind.

The first half of the film follows a skeptical Buck Williams as he investigates various theories about The Vanishing – some say the people who disappeared were “different” – and interviews so-called experts on his network. Williams’ view on the End Times changes as he watches a powerful businessman, Jonathan Stonogal, promote a one-world currency and a powerful politician, Romania’s Nicolae Carpathia, promote a one-world government. (One of those characters becomes the Antichrist.) Those events align with what Barnes has said will happen.

Williams and Barnes then join forces with Steele.

Photo courtesy: ©Fathom Events, used with permission.

Corbin Bensen in Left Behind Antichrist

2. It Features Well-Known Talent

You’ll likely recognize some of the faces in Rise of the Antichrist. Kevin Sorbo (God’s Not Dead), the film’s director, portrays Steele, while Neal McDonough (Captain America, Band of Brothers) plays Stonogal. The film also stars Emmy-nominee Corbin Bernsen (Major League series), Sam Sorbo (Let There Be Light), Greg Perrow (Actor for Hire) and Charles Andrew Payne (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants).

Faith-based films often receive criticism for their poor acting, yet the cast in Rise of the Antichrist is solid and believable. Perrow, who has the appearance of a TV host, is a perfect fit for the role.

Rise of the Antichrist features a different set of actors and actresses than that of 2014’s Left Behind, which had Nicholas Cage portraying Steele and Chad Michael Murray playing Williams. (If you’re curious, the new films are a sort of “reboot” of the 2000-era Left Behind films starring Kirk Cameron.)

Photo courtesy: ©Fathom Events, used with permission.

Charles Payne and Sarah Fisher in Left Behind Antichrist

3. It’s Part-Detective, Part-Apologetics, Part-Sermon

You don’t have to be a fan of the Left Behind series to enjoy Rise of the Antichrist. That’s because much of the film is similar to a science fiction detective film as it follows a television reporter on his quest for the truth.

It’s one-third a thriller film, one-third an apologetics lesson, and one-third a sermon. It includes the “come to the altar” moments that some moviegoers hate, but it also includes a few lessons in pretribulation, premillennial apologetics, seemingly aimed at critics within the Christian community who say there’s little biblical support for this view of the End Times. (Asked by Chloe Steele to reveal biblical evidence for the Rapture, Barnes turns to 1 Thessalonians 4 and then reads it. Barnes also shows Steele and others his “End Times” charts.)

Meanwhile, the film includes a few solid messages. It reminds us that humans will always deny the miraculous and instead favor natural explanations. (No theory was “too crazy for a world determined not to see the truth,” we are told.) It also encourages us to embrace a sense of urgency with our evangelism, as happens when Steele sees the truth.

Rise of the Antichrist is the best Left Behind movie yet, even if it does include one or two moments of “cheese” that briefly distract from the plot.

Fans of the Left Behind story will enjoy it the most. But for those who never read the books – like me – it includes enough gripping drama to make it interesting.

Rise of the Antichrist is unrated but likely would be PG-13 due to violence (we see people shot and killed at point-blank range) and thematic elements of fright and peril. It also includes brief coarse language (h-ll, 2).

Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Family-friendly rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Photo courtesy: ©Fathom Events, used with permission.

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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