Saturday, January 3, 2009


The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) produced this amateurish, often predictable apocalyptic suspense thriller about the epic battle between Good and Evil on the eve of the new millennium. Clearly, the 'end time prophecies' in the books of Daniel and Revelation inspired the evangelical screenplay by Stephan Blinn, Hollis Barton, and Hal Lindsey based on TBN founder Paul Crouch's book. Nothing exciting or enlightening about the controversial Biblical code, however, ignites sparks in this loquacious yarn. Sadly, sketchy characters uttering embarrassing dialogue in a cliché-riddled script with little overall action and an anemic ending make only a slight impression in this barely tolerable 100-minute, PG-13 rated melodrama.

"The Omega Code" (* out of ****) depicts the efforts of misguided philanthropic tycoon Stone Alexander (Michael York) who spends millions to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity with a little coercion and terrorism for good measure. You know Stone is up to no good when he talks about a one-world currency and an improved Roman Empire. First, he sends out his right-hand henchman, ex-priest Dominic (Michael Ironside of "Starship Troopers"), to gun down an elderly Jewish scholar after he had broken the 'Biblical Code.' Second, when our sartorial megalomaniac doesn't have his minions manipulating the Bible code to stage a global takeover, Alexander charms a motivational guru, Dr. Gillen Lane (Casper Van Dien of "Tarzan and the Lost City"), into serving as his mouthpiece. Dr. Lane drops everything to accommodate Alexander, forsaking his young daughter Maddie (Ayla Kell of "Rebound") and estranged wife Jennifer (Devon Odessa of "Shoot the Moon"), before he realizes that Alexander has deluded both the world and him. Meantime, our straightforward but simple-minded hero suffers from hallucinatory visions, apocalyptic horses, hooded monks, and the tragic death of his mother. He refuses adamantly to believe in God. As far as Lane is concerned, no benevolent Higher Being could be so cruel and callous as to destroy his saintly mommy in a senseless car accident. In the middle of a conversation with TV talk-show host, Cassandra (Catherine Oxenberg), Lane experiences these terrifying visions, but he doesn't understand what they symbolize. Shrugging them off as uneasily as he does his botched marriage, he helps Stone embark on his quest for global domination until a jealous Dominic intervenes. When he tries to knock off Lane, Dominic accidentally shoots Alexander in the head and then frames Lane for the murder. Not only does Lane now know the scope of Stone's perfidy, but he also because a fugitive on the lam.

"Long Ride Home" director Robert Marcarelli struggles against a formulaic B-movie script that makes any of "The Omen" sequels appear consecrated by comparison. The action unfolds quickly at first before it bogs down in numbing passages of exposition designed by its didactic scenarists to highlight the problems of modern society. The characters stand around and chew the scenery, but little happens that would make anybody's pulse race. Even the third-act "Raiders of the Lost Ark" pyrotechnics cannot salvage this heavy-handed religious propaganda potboiler. The filmmakers allow Michael York of "Logan's Run" little leeway in his villainous portrayal of Stone Alexander. He appears more urbane than intimidating. We are never in doubt from the outset that York's character is anybody but the anti-Christ. Check out Stone Alexander's star-shaped corporate logo that bears a suspicious resemblance to a pentagram. Indeed, York lends "The Omega Code" what modicum of dignity that it has with his polished performance. As the square-jawed, reborn hero who locks horns with Stone, Casper Von Dien acts like a school boy with a bladder control problem. Only career baddie Michael Ironside seems genuinely convincing as a hard-fisted fiend with no compunctions about homicide. The closest thing to profanity occurs when he utters 'son of a . . . 'then charges out of the room in pursuit of our hero before we can catch the b-word.

"The Omega Code" draws its inspiration from bestselling authors, such as Michael Drosnin in "The Bible Code," Grant Jeffrey in "The Signature of God," and Jeffrey Satinover in "Cracking the Bible Code," that argue you can find prophesies concealed in divine scripture by using equidistant Hebrew letter sequencing. Hasidic Jews argued the same nonsense as early as the 12th century so there is nothing new about this crackpot theory that is derived in part from Pythagoras who believed that numbers represented the ultimate reality.

No, "The Omega Code" is not the greatest story ever told. The same people who complain regularly about sex and violence in movies should think twice about taking their children to see this shallow morality saga. Nevertheless, this TBN feature film contains several obligatory shoot-outs and a knuckle-bruising interrogation scene that earn it a PG-13 rating. Laudable as TBN's evangelical goals appear, "The Omega Code" amounts to little more than a second-rate imitation of a secular doomsday adventure opus. Altogether, this innocuously bland Providence Entertainment film release tastes like Tums for the soul.

Stay home and read Revelation; it tops this muddled mystery thriller.

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