The independent film movement is, overall, a good thing. By sidestepping the Hollywood big-studio system, it's allowed a thousand flowers to bloom. Anyone who can raise the necessary production coin and find an interested distributor gets a chance to present a message to the public. There's no ideology attached to the process. Everything has taken its shot at the marketplace, from uplifting Christian films like The Spitfire Grill and Entertaining Angels to self-satisfied, nihilistic melodramas like Happiness.

At first glance, the independently made The Omega Code seems to have its heart in the right place. Financed by the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the nation's largest evangelical Protestant cable TV network, it aims to use the thriller genre to propagate what it calls “family-friendly” and “life-affirming, positive” messages. But, perhaps predictably, this movie, a dramatization of misinterpreted end-time prophecies from the Book of Revelation, soon enough turns into an exercise in hysteria and an anti-Catholic diatribe.

Stone Alexander (Michael York) is a bleeding-heart liberal who backs politically correct causes. He fights world hunger, works for Middle East peace and supports the European Union. But behind this benevolent facade lurks an evil purpose: He's working for Satan to take over the planet. Director Rob Marcarelli and screenwriters Stephen Blinn and Hollis Barton want us to believe that his rise to power as the first chancellor of the United World is the beginning of the end.

To achieve his goals, Alexander steals the so-called Bible Code, a set of mathematical equations which purports to uncover hidden truths and prophecies from the holy Scriptures. Successful motivational psychologist Gillen Lane (Casper Van Dien) is recruited to promote the cause. But he turns against Alexander, grabbing the code for himself. This triggers the final battle between good and evil. Plot implausibilities and familiar-looking action sequences multiply, culminating in a badly executed rip-off of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The Omega Code also indulges in what it thinks is sly social commentary, targeting the United Nations and the Catholic Church. The Vatican is depicted as collaborating with Alexander in his pseudo-humanitarian activities, and the international dogooder's top henchman is an ultravio-lent ex-priest (Michael Ironsides).

This film plays like it was written by someone who has read the Bible while assiduously ignoring 20 centuries of biblical scholarship. It exploits many currently fashionable conspiracy theories to advance its poisonous agenda. Unsuspecting viewers should be warned.