Clint’s Review : The Da Vinci Code

“Everything [is] as condensed as dessert milk”


Tom Hanks, Audrey Tatou, Jean Reno, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, Jurgen Prochnow, Paul Bettany, Etienne Chicot

You know that feeling you get when you rip open a big bag of potato chips only to find the bag is quarter-full? If you’re starving, you’ll dig right in anyway, sautéing your lips with the salty goodness, but you’re bound to come to the realisation that hot air can be ever so dissatisfying, eventually, aren’t you? Especially when you reach the bottom of the synthetic packet.

The film version of Dan Brown’s best selling, not to mention hugely hyped, book, “The Da Vinci Code” is like that – you just know they could’ve fit more inside. At the same time, you’re aching for it, so you’ll still gladly dig into what’s on offer.

Yet, this isn’t so much Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code”, but “The Da Vinci Code for Dummies” with everything as condensed as dessert milk, and most of the mutton from the book’s bone ravaged before it got before the cameras.

Same deal as the book: Professor (and all-round expert code breaker) Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tatou), a cryptologist with the French Judicial Police, are thrust together on a frantic quest for the Holy Grail, when a series of murders are committed, and Langdon finds himself the prime suspect. What they discover is a major religious cover-up, one that seems to indicate that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene were married and had a child – Among other ‘surprising’ revelations.

And for the sake of saving ‘some’ didn’t-see-that-coming-moments, I’ll leave it there.

Yep, Hollywood has had its way with, what some believe, is one of the best books of the century. But is it bad enough that’ll have everyone screaming ‘rape’?

No.

In fact, “The Da Vinci Code” isn’t a bad movie at all. It’d be even better if it weren’t called “The Da Vinci” code, because then the pressure and expectations would be sans from the analysis. On it’s own, it’s an entertaining, well performed and ultimately exquisitely shot film, the likes of which Ron Howard is famous for.

On the other hand, it is “The Da Vinci Code”, and you can’t help but notice that it should never have been turned into a two-and-a-half hour movie, but more so, a tri-nightly min-series, just long enough to squeeze all the important details in.

In it’s current form, it not only summarizes (not to mention skips over crucial parts) the book, but lays everything out in front of the audience as if we were brainless chimps in a Roddy McDowall movie. Everything feels rather forced (yes, we guessed that plot point an hour ago, why bother explaining it…again!) and studio trite (Oh look, here comes another ‘Tom Hanks’ moment).

If you’ve never read the book, you’ll walk out of the film wondering what all the fuss is about. The movie makes it seems like such a simple easy-to-join-the-dots tale, with the audience always five steps ahead of the film.

In fact, Disney’s “National Treasure”, which treads similar lines – Nicolas Cage discovers a hidden buried treasure, via cryptic clues – but put entertainment before plot point, might even be a more enjoyable film. It definitely moved faster, and it encompassed a few more surprises. But, of course, that was helped by the fact that nobody had any expectations about that one. “Da Vinci” always had its work cut out for it – but boy, if they could only have quickened up the pace a bit, or let us, the audience, do some of the thinking for ourselves.

Having said that, it is a good-enough film, and the one thing that most people were sceptical about – the casting of Tom Hanks in the lead – is actually one of its saving graces. In addition, Paul Bettany is excellent as Silas, the terminating albino, whilst Audrey Tatou is absolutely radiant as the inquisitive Sophie. Howard has also made great use of the locations he has been given access too – they add a lot to his depiction.

The Catholic Church has nothing to worry about here though. This is way too cheesy for anyone to swallow as gospel, and ain’t nobody going to be crowning Ronny Howard the new Messiah anytime soon.

Read the book instead.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris