Left Behind: World at War is the third film in the series of films based on the Left Behind book series. The movie was produced by Cloud Ten Pictures and released under the Sony Entertainment banner. Instead of a planned theatrical release, the movie premiered at churches on October 21, 2005 before its release on DVD and video on October 25, 2005. The movie was based primarily on the last fifty pages of the novel Tribulation Force.
Set 18 months after the events of the second movie, and an attack is taking place. United States President Gerald Fitzhugh (Louis Gossett Jr.) videotapes his confession. Afterwards, he looks out the window as a shadowy figure arrives in the background.
The movie then cuts one week earlier. The Tribulation Force, consisting of Rayford Steele, his daughter Chloe Steele, Buck Williams, Bruce Barnes, Ivy Goldberg, and Chris Smith are in the process of stealing Bibles from a Global Community (GC) compound. The GC bursts into the warehouse and shoots Chris while the remaining Trib Force members escape. At Washington, D.C., the president and his vice-president, John Mallory, are taking some time away from the White House. Mallory informs Fitzhugh of Nicolae's plans and how he has found evidence that Nicolae is planning an attack on American soil. Before he shares the information, Mallory dies from an ambush attack, but a militia group comes to the aid of the President.
Back at the Trib Force underground headquarters, Bruce Barnes performs a double wedding ceremony: Buck to Chloe, and Rayford to Amanda White, the newest member who once knew Rayford's first wife before the vanishings. After the ceremony is over, Buck heads over to L.A. and Rayford flies to New Babylon. Nicolae meets with Fitzhugh who expresses his deepest concern over the news of Mallory's death, and teams up with Carolyn Miller (Jessica Steen), who poses as Nicolae's top aide at GC headquarters. Together, they find Nicolae's secret plan of stealing Bibles and lacing them with anthrax before distributing them. The GC block their escape, with Fitzhugh killing one of the guards in the process.
Fitzhugh is recruited by Miller's ragtag military team to help take out Nicolae, which he participate in. As Fitzhugh enters the GC building and asks to see the president (it is also revealed that one of the GC guards is really an insider, but is shot by another). Fitzhugh enters Nicolae's office, but Nicolae was already aware of Fitzhugh's assassination attempt and foils it. Fitzhugh tries to shoot Nicolae with three rounds, but isn't affected as they go through him and hit a guard instead. Using mind-meld techniques, Nicolae throws Fitzhugh out of a 20-story window, landing on top of a car. Nicolae goes over too the window to see, in disgust, Fitzhugh getting up and walking away. Fitzhugh isn't believed when he returns to the militia base to inform that the plan failed: Carolyn takes this the hardest.
The underground Trib Force HQ is hit the hardest as World War III approaches. Bruce and Chloe are infected with the virulent bacteria, but in the end it is Chloe who miraculously survives when red wine, used in communion, is revealed to be the antidote. Buck meets Fitzhugh in a destroyed White House, where he helps the president become a Christian. Fitzhugh then confronts Nicolae in a final showdown where he activates a personal transmitter (and dials Carolyn's cell phone, where she hears the entire conversation), hoping to obliterate the entire GC headquarters, Nicolae and himself, with a missile locked onto the transmitter's location. Fitzhugh dies in the resulting explosion, wiping out the GC base, but Nicolae walks away from the blast unharmed.
The movie ends with Buck Williams getting a call in the elevator from Chloe as she tells him about the wine and Bruce's death. Buck promises to come home from his trip soon as the elevator stops and the door opens to reveal an armed Carolyn. She lowers her weapon and Buck states that "we need to talk," implying that they had met before. (Which, in accordance to the first Left Behind book, they have. Carolyn's husband was Eric Miller, a journalist for the Seaboard Monthly.)
Filming began in Toronto, Ontario on February 21, 2005 on a budget of $17 million and wrapped on March 18, 2005.
The third movie drew heavy criticism. While some fans of the series thought that having a Hollywood-based company handled the film resulted in better production values and eloquent cinematography techniques, others felt that Left Behind: World At War strayed too far from the original storyline, the final two chapters of the book Tribulation Force and the first four or five chapters of the third book has events that match up to what is shown in this movie.
Recognizable events were the marriages of Buck with Chloe and Rayford with Amanda, the death of Bruce Barnes, and the U.S. president heading an attack, with Britain and Egypt, against the Global Community. Major parts of the movie, however, were not in any of the books: the poisoning of Bibles by the forces of Nicolae, and an attempt by Fitzhugh to assassinate Nicolae. Buck's meeting with the president in the books makes it into the movie, but in a totally different form. Also, in the movie Nicolae Carpathia, the main antagonist, is portrayed almost as a supernatural being, displaying supernatural powers against his enemies, what it also shows by at the end having Carpathia walking out from the wreckage of the building is the one thing that Man will not be able to defeat the evil of the Antichrist because he will only be defeated by the end of the seven year tribulation.
Another value was the studio Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, who didn't market the movie in the weeks leading up to its release.
- Louis Gossett Jr.: President Gerald Fitzhugh
- Kirk Cameron: Buck Williams
- Brad Johnson: Rayford Steele
- Jessica Steen: Carolyn Miller
- Gordon Currie: Nicolae Carpathia
- Janaya Stephens: Chloe Steele
- Chelsea Noble: Hattie Durham
- Laura Catalano: Amanda White
- Arnold Pinnock: Bruce Barnes
- Charles Martin Smith: Vice President John Mallory
- David Eisner: Chief of Staff Allan Campbell
- Martin Randez: Andrews
- Phillip Jarrett: Trent
- David Macniven: Chris Smith
- Patrick Stevenson: GC Officer
- Ashton Rodriguez: Killer G
- The film was in production since 2002, when Cloud Ten Pictures released an official 30-second announcement teaser on DVD copies of Left Behind II: Tribulation Force
- The movie was also called Left Behind: World War III at one point during production before undergoing a title change.
- Principal photography was supposed to begin 15 October 2004, but got pushed back until 21 February 2005 because the script was not "locked".
- Clarence Gilyard Jr. was originally signed to reprise his role of Bruce Barnes, but couldn't return due to a scheduling conflict. As a devout Catholic he has also admitted his priest was happy he didn't reprise the role, as the films paint an apocalyptic view that doesn't always line up with the Catholic Church's teachings.