The Omega Code (review)

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Signs and Blunders

Maybe you’ve heard of The Omega Code. This is the “Christian thriller” that shocked Hollywood last year by breaking into the box office top 10, if only momentarily, playing on only a handful of screens across the Bible Belt. Why Hollywood was shocked is a bit of a mystery: The independently produced The Omega Code is illogical, anti-intellectual, tedious, and absurd, but no more so than any given Adam Sandler movie. Why should religious folks be any more discriminating than the vast secular majority? A real shock would be if, say, The Insider was such a blockbuster that Mattel cashed in with Jeffrey Wigand inaction figures.

But I digress.

The Omega Code takes as its starting point the so-called Bible Code, which subjects Old Testament texts to mathematical massaging to reveal supposedly startling predictions of recent events from the rise of Hitler to the Kennedy assassinations to the death of Princess Diana. The fact that just about any old book, from Moby-Dick to the yellow pages, can be shown to also contain such “revelations” doesn’t seem to have deterred the producers of this hooey one bit.

So, we have one Gillen Lane (Casper Van Dien: Sleepy Hollow), an inspirational speaker à la Tony Robbins who believes in the Bible Code but not in the Bible and somehow translates this into a message stupid secular Americans are eating up: that we ourselves are the higher power, that we are our own god. Lane has a bestseller and guest spots on inane talk shows, so we know he’s a hit with godless Americans. But he’ll learn the error of his ways.

As if the concept of this dumb-as-a-post pretty boy holding, we’re told, a double doctorate from Cambridge University isn’t insulting enough, we are then presented with Stone Alexander (Michael York: Austin Powers, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me), a “beloved media mogul” — say wha? — “turned political dynamo.” Chairman of the European Union, we first meet Alexander as he is receiving a humanitarian award from the United Nations. And as any God-fearing Republican knows, UN = NWO. Yes, the New World Order is here. Can black helicopters be far behind? They cannot, indeed.

Michael York is the antichrist. I knew it.

Alexander’s right-hand-man, Dominic (Michael Ironside: Starship Troopers) — an ex-priest turned, I swear to Zeus, hired killer — has stolen from a rabbi in Jerusalem computer discs containing a holographic program based on the Bible Code, a program to reveal “prophecies of our coming future”… as opposed to prophecies of the past future, or the coming past, perhaps. Why Alexander needs this program is a mystery, because all that happens is that it spits out cryptic riddles about the antichrist’s actions immediately before Alexander is about to commit them. He’s not even using them as a guidebook or anything. Weird.

Oh, so anyway, Lane ends up advising Alexander on how to take over the world. Honestly. Imagine that guy who wrote The Celestine Prophecy becoming Kofi Annan’s closest counselor, and you’ve got it. Hilarious. But then Lane’s visions of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse get stranger — visions that were so murky to start with it’s impossible to tell if perhaps the cameraman didn’t just put a colored filter on the lens and shoot some stuff sideways — and he starts to wonder exactly what Alexander is up to. I told you he was dumb as a post.

The Omega Code has some of the funniest bits I’ve seen in a film in a long time, and they’re all due to the shocking incompetence of Van Dien as an actor. Lane seems constitutionally incapable of walking around a sofa, and is compelled instead to leap over each and every one he comes across. This is meant to convey his charisma and dynamism, I think, but… no, it doesn’t work. He comically anticipates the few emotions Lane evinces, as in the scene in which his phone rings and he gets angry before he even answers what turns out to be an unexpected call from a bad guy. And Lane has the most amusing line in the film: “I took a teaching position at the university.” Imagine Van Dien saying that, and just try not to laugh.

This is the kind of flick in which the made-for-TV cast — which also includes the simply awful Catherine Oxenberg — talk to one another in fraught, movie-of-the-week tones; in which Lane, a world-renowned figure the media follows like a hawk, can meet a shadowy informant in a crowded public place with no one at all recognizing him; in which characters can appear unannounced in the inner sanctum of the most powerful man in the world; in which characters can scoff at warnings of life-threatening danger even after others have been shot dead at their feet; in which the plot can paint itself into impossible corners and then cop out in the most ridiculous of manners.

No irony, no humor, no edge — The Omega Code is so smugly earnest that you want to smack it. But then again, irony, humor, and edge are the cynical products of the kind of higher education that Lane (allegedly) received. To save himself from the sway of Satan, a prophet warns Lane, he must have “the faith of a child.” The same is true if you’ve any hope at all of enjoying The Omega Code.

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