In the remake of "The Omen," the plot is simple and serviceable. When the just-born son of an American diplomat dies in the postnatal care theater, the father (Liev Schreiber) knows it will break his fragile wife's (Julia Stiles) heart, if not her brain. A priest points out that an unwed mother has just perished in giving birth; could we not switch the now-parentless newborn for the now-dead newborn?
He doesn't bother to tell the young man that the baby's mommy was a hyena or maybe a jackal or some other slavering canine from beyond the Styx. That deed done, the son, Damien, grows into a beautiful boy (newcomer Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) but one with an odd sense of aloofness. At the same time, he can issue a laser-shot of contempt through his beady little eyes that would give a black cat a myocardial infarction.
When he's about 4, deaths begin happening around him, each calculated to advance his position; a nanny spectacularly hangs herself. Soon, lovable old Mrs. Baylock (Mia Farrow) has shown up to take over as nanny, and she bonds with Damien. A photographer (David Thewlis) notes suggestive light streaks in the photos he has taken of two early victims, implying their spectacular ends, and so he begins to investigate. Cue the beheading machine.
Like the original "Omen," the movie still has the gloss of a Lincoln Continental commercial as it prowls through swanky European backdrops. It's handsome in the way it's fast-moving: sleek, well-engineered, full of gooses and honks. Some of the casting seems a little off. Still, it works. Director John Moore keeps the thing humming, leaping from atrocity to atrocity. And he gets something weird: that is, the deep and abiding pleasure certain people feel in watching the elaborate extermination tricks assembled diabolically.
-- Stephen Hunter
Contains disturbing, extreme and graphic violence, and profanity.