The Da Vinci Code

Anybody worried about potential controversy over the subject material contained within The Da Vinci Code can rest easy.  It's all there, but the movie is not the engaging, suspenseful thriller that the book is.  The film adaptation is a bit too talky and dull, and will most likely not be able to attract the rabid devotion that still keeps Dan Brown's novel atop the best-seller lists.  Part of the reason for this is that a book like The Da Vinci Code is difficult to adapt into a film.  There is a lot of information flying around, and removing too much will cause the film to look stupid.

Director Ron Howard (Cinderella Man, The Missing) and adapter Akiva Goldsman (Cinderella Man, I, Robot) opt for an unsatisfying middle ground.  The only way to convey much of the information from Brown's novel was to add a lot of exposition.  There is a lot of talking between the characters, which really drags down the overall plot of the film.  The history of secret groups, symbols, and mysticism all need mention, and oftentimes much explanation before their relation to each other is understood.  It is interesting material, and the way everything ties together is fascinating (and the main reason the book is so popular), but does not fit with a plot requiring a sense of urgency.

The story itself is well known by now.  Everything revolves around the theory that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene, and the two sired a bloodline.  The grail is in fact Mary Magdalene, and this secret has been held for years.  Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks, The Polar Express, The Terminal) finds himself suddenly embroiled into the controversy when somebody he was supposed to meet is found dead at the Louvre.  The murder scene contains numerous religious symbols that Langdon soon discovers are clues.  Soon Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou, A Very Long Engagement, Dirty Pretty Things), granddaughter of the victim, whisks him away as they try to decode the message, all while dodging arrest from authorities and capture by some unknown assailants.

Each time Langdon and Neveu unravel a thread of the secret, there is a big "so what" effect.  It lacks the surprise and shock factor that Howard was hoping for.  Another reason is that Hanks and Tautou seem miscast.  Yes, they run around and elude a mad albino monk named Silas (Paul Bettany, Firewall, Wimbledon), but otherwise, both seem pretty passive.  Hanks sits around and talks, often questioning the ideas of his onetime friend Sir Leah Teabing (Ian McKellan, Doogal, Asylum).  Tautou is little more than the cute sidekick.  It's a decent thriller, but for those who have not read Brown's novel, the movie is not likely to cause them to run out and buy it.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
2 hours, 29 minutes, Rated PG-13 for disturbing images, violence, some nudity, thematic material, brief drug references, and sexual content.

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