Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Longest.  Movie.  Ever.  Okay, not quite, but it sure seemed that way.  As the only person in the free world who hasn’t read Dan Brown’s ‘The DaVinci Code’ I think I am able to approach this film without the weight of expectations that that those who have read novel may be anticipating.  Truth be told, the movie is bunch of talkity talk, ridiculous theories and long stretches of resolute boredom.  Just because a bunch of folks ran out and read a book, doesn’t mean you have to make a movie about it.
Multiple Academy Award winner Tom Hanks is Dr. Robert Langdon, a religious symbologist who is in France to give a speech and sign some books.  After the book signing, Dr. Langdon is slated to have an urgent dinner with the curator of the Louvre, but unfortunately he is murdered beneath the Mona Lisa by a spooky albino (Paul Bettany) searching for a secret.  Before he dies, dude manages to write a few cryptic messages in his own blood for Dr. Langdon and his estranged granddaughter, police officer Sophie Neveau (Audrey Tatou), hide a few gadgets behind some paintings, strip naked, carve some symbols into his body and recreate DaVinci’s famous anatomical Virtruvian Man pose on the Louvre’s floor.  He probably should’ve called an ambulance instead, but then we wouldn’t have had a movie.

Danger is now afoot as Sophie warns Dr. Langdon that his life is in peril and that ‘The Bulldog’, Detective Fache (Jean Reno), is convinced Langdon is her grandfather’s murderer, and he will stop at nothing to bring him to justice.  But there is a much bigger conspiracy afoot concerning Jesus Christ, Mary Magdeline, The Holy Grail, secret Vatican sects, hidden messages in the artwork of the masters, and the biggest con in the history of mankind.

You can’t argue, at least not with me you can’t, that Tom Hanks isn’t a great actor, Ron Howard isn’t a great director, and Audrey Tatou doesn’t have the loveliest set of big round brown eyes in the business today, but gosh darnit, all that talent just didn’t make for a very engaging movie.  They were trying so hard to sell the theory of the con, that after a while I just wanted to stand up a yell ‘I GET IT ALREADY!!!’ get on with movie please.  To further assist in us buying into the ‘con of man’ interspersed with the dialog describing the theories further were manufactured action shots of witch burnings, medieval battles and the like that were obviously inserted to liven up what was quickly becoming a dreadfully dull affair.
There was also the mystery of ‘The Teacher’ who is a shady unseen character hiding behind the scenes driving all of this conspiracy and murder.  We know he has to be one of the characters we’ve met already, but who?  By the law of diminishing movie characters, which includes who’s been killed, who’s been eliminated, and who it simply can’t be, the mystery of the teacher isn’t really much of a mystery.
And then, of course, there is the controversy.  Outside the screening I attended were a group of protesters holding up banners and signs proclaiming something or another.  Folks, it’s just a story, and a preposterous one at that.  Anyone who believes the validity of Mr. Brown’s novel (it’s a novel, remember, not a critical work of non-fiction) probably also believes that the holocaust never happened, slavery was a liberal media ploy, the lunar landing was faked to divert attention from Vietnam and there was more than one gunman in the JFK assassination.  Wait, I think I believe that last one, so scratch it.  It’s just a story.  And not a really good one at that.
If you want really want to see what Tom Hanks and Ron Howard can do go ahead and rent ‘Splash’ again.  Now THAT’S a work of non-fiction because we KNOW the government has been trying to hide the existence of mermaids for years!  Bastards!

Bud’s Second:  Hype is a really funny thing, especially when it comes to movies.  Sometimes, a movie studio / distribution company will have to work really hard to try to get some word-of muth buzz going about a movie.  And on rare occasions, the hype comes from outside forces, and that movie will just go along for the ride. The situation with the DaVinci Code movie is exactly the latter, with the moviemakers actually coming out publicly to downplay the hype surrounding the movie before it hit the theaters. And isn't it interesting that the hype surrounding the movie is being generated largely by people who haven't seen it yet?

So let's put the hype aside for a little bit, and talk about The  DaVinci Code movie for what it is, a big-budget action-thriller.  It's not trying to rewrite history, and it's not trying to be any sort of political / religious statement (at least that I could identify). And  as an action-thriller, it is mediocre-at-best. And with all the talent behind this movie, it's actually quite disappointing. Nothing special here folks, now move along.


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