"A popcorn blockbuster with a religious twist - nothing more, nothing less"
I guess based on the sales, I am of the minority having not read Dan Brown’s religious mystery novel The Da Vinci Code. I make no apologies for that, as I am far too busy watching movies nowadays to be reading books. So I go into Ron Howard’s movie version somewhat a virgin to the story, all I have witnessed is the overwhelming hype and controversy surrounding both the novel and the movie.Is the movie any good? – well it’s okay. Is it worthy of uproar it has caused amongst the Christian faith? – hardly. The bottom line is that both versions are fiction. Simply a mystery/thriller with a religious twist and it has never claimed to be anything more, so I doubt that churchgoers are going to abandon their faith after watching this movie. It would be like quitting your job after watching The Matrix because you believe you are part of a computer program.
Even in Australia various churches have spent tens of thousands of dollars on anti Da Vinci Code campaigns and advertising – would this money have not been better donated to the sick, poor or homeless? Spending money on such campaigns only adds fuel to the fire that the church has something to hide. Anyway, on with the review…
The movie opens with a Louvre curator meeting his demise after being shot by an eerie looking albino monk. He spends his last moments leaving various clues that only two people are likely to pick up on – the Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon and his granddaughter Sophie Neveu, a police cryptologist.
As the investigation gets underway into the curator’s death, the two meet with Langdon being a murder suspect and suddenly they are thrown into a dangerous game of cat and mouse as they begin to unravel clues that all point towards the biggest cover up of all time.
On their tails is the albino monk and assassin Silas (Paul Bettany), he is part of the secretive Opus Dei who answers to Bishop Aringarosa (Alfred Molina) and the both of them will stop at nothing to protect the Christian faith being revealed as a farce. Also hot on their heels is the French police led by Captain Franche who is obsessed to the point of breaking the rules in order to nab the pair.
As Langdon and Neveu crack one clue after another it leads them to an old friend of Robert’s and Holy Grail hunter Sir Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen). He reveals exactly what the pair are on the path to unravel and why the church is doing all it can to stop them. Excited by the chance to solve his lifelong obsession Teabing harbours the two on a private jet and joins them on the hunt that takes them to London. All the while the police and Silas remain a serious threat to them unveiling the truth.
The casting is mostly excellent particularly with Paul Bettany delivering a chilling performance as Silas and Ian McKellen doing a fantastic job as an eccentric treasure hunter. Unfortunately the flattest performances are from the two leads with Hanks and Tatou being mostly uninspiring and are outshone by the remainder of the cast. The filming locations and cinematography by Salvatore Totino make it a very pretty film to look at, as does the interesting used of CGI when we are flashed back to Roman times and Christian wars.From what I can gather Ron Howard remains fairly faithful to the book but maybe the novel includes more details to make it all seem a bit more credible. After all the hype, I was expecting a religious thriller on par with The Name of the Rose but instead was left with National Treasure with a Christian twist. Basically, the Da Vinci Code is a popcorn blockbuster that entertains whilst viewing but is soon forgotten after leaving the cinema and is certainly not worth the fuss and controversy that it has received.