The Omega Code (1999)
Action-based faith movies are a curious and somewhat niche genre (“no shit” I hear you say). Apart from this movie and its sequel, the only other I can think of is Left Behind from 2014. There have been others, but they’ve tended to be very low budget affairs, made for Christian TV networks. The Omega Code, directed by Robert Marcarelli, was different, in so far it had a larger budget and managed to get a secure a theatrical release. The premillennialist plot revolves around a plan by industrialist politician and Antichrist Stone Alexander (Michael York) to take over the world using information hidden in the Bible via a hidden code. Casper Van Dien also stars as lifestyle guru Dr. Gillen Lane who unwittingly joins Stone to handle his public relations. The film is based on a novel written by televangelist Paul Crouch, head of the Trinity Broadcasting Network. The plot presents an Evangelical Christian view about the end of days and the rise of the Antichrist. Believe it or not, the box office returns for The Omega Code where greater than Fight Club on its opening weekend in 1999.
So where to start? The Omega Code is a mess yet a fascinating one at that. The budget although small, is sufficient to portray the proceedings, although the effects work, computer graphics and action scenes are somewhat lacklustre. The direction is poor, the script clichéd and the plot very predictable. Yet a lot of research appear to have been done regarding the religious prophecies depicted. It’s a shame this aspect wasn’t explored more. There are some interesting performances, especially from York, who has a great time chewing the scenery. Genre favourite, Michael Ironside appears as a defrocked priest turned assassin which is as novel as is bizarre. In some respects, the movie come across as The Omen lite, but it struggles to hold the viewers interest. It raises many theological questions and yet for a faith driven movie there's a lot about Satan but precious little about Jesus. The PG-13 rating is not really justified and those looking for action will be disappointed.
A better director, tighter script and larger budget would have greatly improved The Omega Code. On mature reflection many of the films failing can be clearly attributed to the fact that many involved on the production side were not sufficiently experienced. In the right hands this could have been a engaging cult movie or cheesy genre film. Yet despite these factors the film still performed well in the US market. No doubt due to heavy promotion at a parish level. It spawned a prequel which attempted to address some of the criticisms of the first instalment. Overall The Omega Code has very limited appeal to both Christians and non-Christians. For those who like theological horror dealt with in a more traditional fashion, I'd recommend Holocaust 2000 from 1977 staring Kirk Douglas. It’s an interesting Italian cash in on The Omen, filled with visions of the apocalypse, lurid death scenes and yet another British actor (Simon York) playing the Antichrist.