The Da Vinci Code (2006)
Puzzled and Disappointed
Did that old cannabis charge finally catch up with me? - Sir Leigh Teabing
I have never read Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" and to be frank I have no intention to do so. But even so I can still spot that during the adaptation from print to film Ron Howard's "The Da Vinci Code" lost something, something important, something which tied it all together and as such the movie, well it's bitty, disjointed and messy. It may feature Tom Hanks in a solid yet unremarkable performance, it may have lead to a sort of sequel but frankly "The Da Vinci Code" is not a great movie, in fact it's barely good.
When the curator of the Museum Louvre is found dead, symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks - The Polar Express) is called in to try and decipher the message which has been carved into the curator's chest and the floor. It doesn't take long for Langdon, with the help of cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), to discover that the message was intended for them leading them on a journey of discovery as they find themselves dealing with one clue after another, all the time followed by Captain Bezu Fache (Jean Reno - Mission: Impossible) who believes Langdon is guilty of murder and a mysterious Albino monk called Silas (Paul Bettany - Wimbledon) who seems to be on a mission from one of his superiors.
Ignoring the controversial storyline about the supposed child of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, which to be honest is not easy to do as it is far fetched, "The Da Vinci Code" suffers in it's adaptation from book to screen. As we go on his adventure, this supposed journey of almost treasure hunting proportions it all ends up farcical, convoluted and seriously messy. It ends up coming across as a series of set pieces where we watch Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu try to solve the next piece of the puzzle, with the storyline failing to coherently link it all together. Yes the ensuing albino monk Silas, Captain Bezu Fache who also ensues is supposed to provide the links, the reason why Langdon in the first place finds himself drawn into this mess, but it doesn't work at all.
As such "The Da Vinci Code" is not only a nightmare to follow but it becomes boring as you give up trying to make sense of it all. There is something mildly entertaining from the way Langdon deciphers clues and gives us historical facts, the CGI overlays of these historical moments add to the entertainment, but they also end up becoming part of the problem as coincidences and contrivances end up becoming more focal than the actual storyline.
Maybe those who do believe that Jesus had a child will be able to decipher the movie as well as Langdon deciphers the clues but without that interest it doesn't work. Nor do any of the supposed moments of action or drama and as for Silas the albino monk who has a thing for self-flagellation well it ends up more comical than creepy with scenes almost thrown in to make the audience sit up and cringe rather than truly add anything of significance to the storyline.
Maybe all this sounds harsh as visually "The Da Vinci Code" works with those various CGI style historical overlays impressing as do various locations such as the French museum. But none of it disguises that the storyline fails to flow, jumping almost from one moment of supposed factual revelation to the next. And although I've not read the book I am sure all the important stuff which makes it flow has been ignored because there is too much to try and squeeze in to a movie of sensible length. Although at nearly 150 minutes for the normal version and 3 hours for the extended version it's not really a sensible length anyway.
The saving grace, the thing which stops "The Da Vinci Code" from being completely pointless is the likeability of Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon. The character maybe quite awful, coming across as contrived as the storyline but Hanks makes you like him even if the storyline doesn't nudge you that way. And the pairing with Audrey Tautou as Sophie Neveu works reasonably well, or at least in the fact that you don't mind watching them trying to unlock the clues even if the dialogue they are given is as messy as the movie.
Hanks and Tatou are not alone, there is a flock of adequate supporting performances from the likes of Ian McKellen, Paul Bettany, Jean Reno and Alfred Molina, but it is Hanks and Tatou as the central figures who make it almost bearable.
What this all boils down to is that "The Da Vinci Code" is a disappointing movie and not just because I disagree with the supposed tale of Jesus and Mary Magdalene having a child. It's all seriously convoluted and contrived as it ends up one set piece after another, with nothing working to tie all the scenes together into a believable story. I am sure there was this element in the book but in adapting Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" to the big screen it has been dropped in favour of those scenes which supposedly deliver revelations about religion and Jesus. Its saving grace lies with the likeability of Tom Hanks and his pairing with Audrey Tatou which makes much of the nonsense a little bit entertaining.
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