The Omega Code DVD

The NEW New Testament

The Omega Code stars Casper Van Dien as Dr. Gillen Lane, a dashing self-help guru whose public success – and habit of leaping over furniture – hides his private failure to keep his family together. He believes he can advance his career by making a deal with industrialist Stone Alexander (Austin Powers‘ Michael York), who has just been made president of the European Union as a result of his work in developing a world-feeding nutritional wafer (reminiscent of soylent green) and a new desalinization process. What the world doesn’t know is that Alexander’s rise to power has been guided by his secret efforts to unravel the prophecies of the Bible Code. Alexander rebuffs Lane, but later offers him a position as his prophet.

Following the Code’s prophesies, Alexander’s agents bomb temples, mosques and other landmarks, setting him up to come in and “save the day.” Eventually, Lane aids Alexander in introducing universal currency, then one-world government, to be headed by Alexander himself. However, the final part of the Code continues to elude him. All the while, Lane continues to neglect his family – and even flirts with newswoman Cassandra Barashe (Catherine Oxenberg) a bit.

The only thing opposing Alexander’s plans is a pair of mysterious strangers (Jan Triska, Gregory Wagrowski), which appears from time to time to thwart his plans and mutter Biblical quotations. The two prophets manage to sow seeds of suspicion in Lane’s mind. That night he sneaks into the basement of Alexander’s gothic castle and finds damning evidence lying around. Alexander catches him, but before Lane can be brought around with more pretty talk, Alexander’s bodyguard Dominic (Michael Ironside, teamed with Van Dien for the first time since Starship Troopers) starts shooting.

Clumsy Dominic – who so far has bungled an amazing number of jobs without getting fired – only succeeds in accidentally shooting his own boss in the head, killing him. If nothing else, Omega Code gets points for originality – can you remember another picture in which the villain’s stooge kills him half way through?

The Omega Code made news in 1999 for breaking into the top ten film list despite being released regionally without a huge ad campaign. This was possible because the film was produced by the Trinity cable network, which flooded its religious broadcasts with plugs for the film. They also aggressively pushed the film through churches throughout the country, especially in the South. Despite the fact that it played almost exclusively in rural areas, the press took notice of the box office tally and gave Trinity a lot of coverage for their “new type of religious picture.”

Unfortunately, though their intention was to make an action thriller as good as any Hollywood can make to carry their message, they fail miserably on all counts. The film is short on action and long on speeches, with a few nice f/x shots, but overall below the level of excitement evident in the average syndicated action TV show.

I guess they could plead poverty, but this argument falls flat in the face of what some filmmakers are capable of achieving at half the budget. What’s missing here is thought, passion and talent – Trinity obviously thought that by constructing a film with some of the same elements as really popular films they could make a film just as good. The Dukes of Hazzard had car chases, but they’re not good car chases, and neither is the one in Omega Code.

But even if it had the car chases from Ronin and The Corruptor spliced into it, The Omega Code would still be a ridiculously poor film. It’s short on logic, plods along like a lame ’70s TV movie, and is full of insufferably pompous and inane dialogue. I know we’re supposed to hate Michael York’s character, but not because he’s boring. I mean, give the devil his due. It also lacks any shred of suspense, since everyone knows that all straying Casper Van Dien has to do is say the magic words and God Almighty will come to the rescue.

Entertaining religious films can be made – Dogma, for instance, or The Ten Commandments. But it’s necessary that those making them have a little brains and talent to go with their intentions.

Adding to the farce, the DVD contains a number of behind-the-scenes features in which cast and crew endlessly pat themselves on the back for creating such a masterpiece.

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