Writer: Akiva Goldsman (screenplay), Dan Brown (novel)
Director: Ron Howard
Producer: Columbia Pictures
Studio: Imagine Entertainment
Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing
Rating from MPAA: PG-13
Review from 67rocks.
Four words – wrong star, wrong director.
Hanks and Howards best work, both together or separately, have been when they embrace intrinsically American values in their films. All their most memorable movies have involved individuals overcoming hardship through an unshakable belief in love and courage, usually set against an outwardly US-centric interpretation of events. Think Apollo 13, Forrest Gump, Cinderella Man, Saving Private Ryan – all fine films, all centred on an American hero rising above their circumstance.
What is conspicuously absent from either man’s resume is a European-set, religious-themed mystery thriller. Having sat through their arduous, laborious adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel, I can now see why.
The plot is total bunkum – a hodgepodge of “what ifs” and “oh my god” moments spun on the ludicrous premise that Leonardo Da Vinci had some sort of insight into the life of Christ – but loopy story lines have not stopped many films from being enjoyable.
What makes The Da Vinci Code so deathly dull is the heavy-handed, oh-so-serious approach Howard applies to the material. Combining with his cinematographer to give the film a sleepy nocturnal feel (not so clever given the 150min running time), Howard’s film is just a constant flow of expository clues that fail to create any tension or engender his leads with any human qualities. Even for those that haven’t read the book, a couple of obligatory ‘big twists’ in the story are very obvious from early-on.
Hanks (looking more like Jim Belushi than ever) and McKellen blather on and on and on about knights and saints and symbols and God as if they were giving a lecture at some Ivy-league school for the supernatural; Audrey Tautou is lovely but has little to do in a role that is plot- not character-driven. Jean Reno ambles thru another of his token French cop parts (he was better in the Pink Panther); Paul Bettany’s evil albino Silas at least got some audience reaction, though giggles and guffaws were probably not what he was hoping for.
Whatever sense of fun and excitement the book provided is fully-drained from this adaptation. Come credit time, I had the realisation that all this hokey, airport-novel religious hooey and B-movie plotting would’ve made for a great X-files episode in that series heyday. As the end-product of a publishing phenomenon and carrying the tag “Years Most-Anticipated”, its a boring dud.