DA VINCI CODE: Like An Amazing Race
THE DA VINCI CODE
Cast: Tom Hanks, Jean Reno, Audrey Tautou and Paul Bettany
Director: Ron Howard from a script by Akiva Goldsman (based on the book by Dan Brown)
Time: 148 mins
Rating: * * 1/2
WHAT’S IT ABOUT? Harvard symbologist Prof Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is called to the Louvre museum where a curator has been murdered, leaving behind a mysterious trail of symbols and clues. With his own life at stake, Langdon and French police cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) unveil a series of ‘clues’ hidden in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, all leading to a covert society dedicated to guarding an ancient secret that has remained hidden for 2000 years.
The trail takes us through Paris, London and Scotland, as the duo try to crack the code and reveal secrets that will shake the foundations of mankind.
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? I had purposely avoided reading the book because I did not want it to affect my enjoyment of the movie. However, after half-an-hour into the movie, I felt like I was watching a souped-up version of The Amazing Race, complete with symbols and clues from art history. Howards adaptation seems literal, albeit serviceable. The controversy over the Code is somewhat dissipated by complicated and laborious explanations which suck the life out of the thriller. Where was Howard’s great sense of humour when we needed it?
HIGHLIGHTS: The car chase in Paris and the Big Switch at a hangar in London help to raise the temperature a bit and prevent the proceedings from looking like a James Bond-type travelogue. Also, Ian McKellen (as Sir Leigh Teabing) looks like he is the only one having fun, putting the Da Vinci controversy into perspective for us.
LOWLIGHTS: Hanks and Tautou are credible enough but I can’t help feeling that Howard could have gotten a lot more out of them. The director could have, for example, explore more of their human and vulnerable sides as the two strangers team up to find the ‘truth’. And without enough character background, Bettany (as the albino monk Silas) looks like a villain out of a horror comic book. Another irritating factor is the lack of English translation for the French dialogue.
THE LOWDOWN? Don’t worry about the movie affecting your faith. The controversy over the movie is a godsend boost for the box-office. If anything, it only strengthens my faith that there is no such thing as bad publicity.