Omega Doom! What’s all that about?
Seriously, don’t ask me. I just watched this Albert Pyun-directed, 1996 sci-fi epic and I’m stil a bit confused as to what exactly was actually going on in the movie. This is a movie that opens with a totally blank screen and then, eventually, two red suns appear in the sky. The film takes place in the future, at a time when humans have nearly wiped themselves out of existence through their endless wars and the planet is now controlled by robots and cyborgs. Omega Doom (Rutger Hauer) was a cyborg programmed to kill humans until he got shot in the head. Apparently, taking a bullet to his cranium changed Omega’s programming and now….
Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s kind of hard to say what exactly it is that Omega does now. We do know that he spends a lot of time walking around because there’s a lot of scenes of him doing just that. Eventually, he stumbles upon the ruins of a town that is now controlled by two warring bands of robots. Before you can say Yojimbo or even A Fistful of Dollars, Omega is playing both sides against each other and …. well, I don’t know what the preferred outcome here is. What is Omega Doom’s motivation? He’s not making any money out of it because robots don’t need money and it’s not like there’s anything left to buy. And he doesn’t seem to be interested in ruling the town himself because it’s kind of a dead end of a town. I mean, there’s dead bodies and robotic parts all over the place. It’s suggested that he might be looking for a secret stash of weapons that can be used to either kill or protect the remaining humans but, at the same time, we don’t ever really see any remaining humans and there’s no reason why Omega would care enough about them to get caught up in a war between robots on their behalf.
So, don’t ask me what’s going on. I guess it really doesn’t matter because it’s not like you watch a film like this for the plot. You watch it for the action! Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of action to be found. There’s a lot of scenes of robots talking about various exciting things that they could, in theory, be doing but no one ever seems to actually get around to doing any of that stuff. Instead, all of the robots stay in their separate sections of the town and wait for everyone else to make the first movie. Eventually, Omega makes a few moves but, even then, they’re not particularly exiting moves. Omega carries a gigantic sword on his back and how I anticipated seeing what he was going to finally do with that sword. Well, it turns out that Omega didn’t do very much with it at all.
Actually, the main reason you’re going to want to watch Omega Doom is because Rutger Hauer plays the title role and Hauer was always cool, even when he was appearing in a less than memorable film. In Omega Doom, Hauer does a passable Clint Eastwood impersonation, delivering his lines with just the right amount of weary condescension. Though you’re never quite sure why Omega is doing anything, Rutger Hauer is always watchable.
And, to be honest, I actually didn’t dislike Omega Doom as much as it may sound like I did. It’s a slow movie and not much happens but, at the same time, I did like the look of the bombed-out city and, though the dialogue was largely forgettable, there was still the occasional line that suggested that Omega Doom had existential ambition, albeit unrealized ones. “God took a vacation,” Omega says at one point and, for a split second, you get a hint of what Omega Doom could have been if it had a bigger budget and a better script. It’s a film that had potential and it’s somewhat fascinating to consider how little of that potential was realized.
Of course, in the end, it all comes down to this: How can you possibly resist Rutger Hauer as a cyborg?