11 December 2008

church basement really awesome apocalyptic B movie festival (part three)

MOVIE THREE: Left Behind II: Tribulation Force (2002)

In this can't-wait-not-to-see follow up to the destined-to-be-a-cult-classic Left Behind I: We've Been Left Behind, Rayford, Buck and Chloe head into the wilds of the great tribulation armed with their Daniel & Revelation misreadings and a plot made of swiss-cheese.  Though it feels like an eternity for those who are trying to follow this story, the movie begins one week after the mysterious disappearances of millions around the world.  Clearly, this antichrist is much more organized than were previous attempts to rule the world within the sphere of cbraaBmovies (cf. A Thief in the Night).

While the antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia (who still should have been better cast, maybe Meatloaf?), has become largely adored and leads without question by most of the world there remains a ragtag band of post-rapture believers who are not swayed by his ability to command audiences by his rhetoric.  [N.B., this plot has absolutely nothing to do with 2008 general election politics.]  The main character, Buck (Kirk Cameron), has sidled up to the antichrist in an attempt to keep an eye on him and secure opportunities for taking pot-shots at the global takeover for this lame 'Tribulation Force" (c'mon, it's not like their the Delta Force or anything. . .maybe if they had signed Chuck Norris they could call themselves a force).  And to help Buck with his anti-antichrist activity, Rayford has been appointed to be the antichrist's personal pilot.

In a rather literal rendering of Revelation 11, the two witnesses who are hanging out around the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem breathe fire on military troops who try to take down a few members of the Tribulation Force while they are on a recruiting assignment.  Evidently they feel that since the antichrist has a Jewish expert in his corner (Chaim), they need a Jewish expert in their corner (Tsion ben Judah, whose name just sounds made up).  This is to fulfill the overstated eschatological premise often found in Scripture that the only chance to win this thing is to have a Jewish expert and/or scientist on your side.

Here is the trailer. . .

Where to begin?  I only saw this movie once and it clocks in at only 94 minutes, yet it felt longer than the unextended Lord of the Rings saga.  And this means that I might get some of the details wrong, but will still be able to give you an accurate description.  There is, believe it or not, one particular scene which almost lends some credence and credibility to the movie. . .but it can't help but shooting itself in the foot.  Rayford is doing some heavy evangelism while on suicide watch with one of his buddies.  The discussion at this point of the movie is actually alright, until Rayford had to go and utter the phrase: "you need to trade that gun for God."  If you must see it for yourself, it is here.  Perhaps next time he could just share a copy of The Purpose Driven Life or something.

Also, on this idea of a tribulation force. . .not only do they not have Chuck Norris, they don't have any biblical support for the notion that a band of believers is summoned to fight against the powers of the world by using the powers of the world.  In fact, the whole of Scripture (especially Revelation) is the precise opposite of this notion - we are to overcome through our faithfulness to the gospel and our imitation of Christ via sacrificial service.  This is seen in the movie through Chloe's volunteering at the shelter and Bruce's work through the church, but these are seen as minor subplots which are vastly overshadowed by the work of taking down the antichrist (who should have been cast better, perhaps Jean-Claude Van Damme?).

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