Nicolas Cage, panicked and bug-eyed, is once again fighting to avert disaster on the big screen, this time as airline pilot Rayford Steele. Fire spews out of a gash in the plane’s wing; a chisel-jawed young man attempts to subdue an unruly mob of passengers as a blonde flight attendant is tossed about in her seat. On the ground, cars crash, explosions rock the sky and civilization is engulfed in a wave of panic and anarchy.
“Looks like the end of the world,” a man remarks.
What it looks like is typical Hollywood apocalypse porn in the vein of “Deep Impact,” “The Day After Tomorrow” or “2012.” In this case, however, the end-times event isn’t a giant asteroid, catastrophic climate change or a Mayan prophecy come true, but the Rapture, with non-believers abandoned to fend for themselves after Christ’s true followers are beamed up to heaven. Based on the series of books by the same name, which were written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins and have sold over 65 million copies since 1995, “Left Behind” delivers all the titillation and destruction we’ve come to expect from a Hollywood blockbuster.
Yet, despite its A-list razzle dazzle, “Left Behind” was produced outside of Hollywood’s traditional orbit. The man primarily responsible for bringing it to the big screen is Paul Lalonde, a Canadian filmmaker who co-produced and co-wrote it. His Ontario-based production company, Stoney Lake Entertainment, is part of an emerging nexus of movie studios that are devoted to creating Christian films.