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'The Da Vinci Code' *** 052606
...............The book:........ 2-disc DVD:....... Blu-ray: .....History Channel Special:
The Work = ***
The film stars Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, an expert on symbols who gets swept up into a web of murder and intrigue. Hanks doesn’t really do much with the role but I suspect there wasn’t a heck of a lot for him to do with it. He just has to run around looking tired and sweaty. Occasionally he has to give some lecture about symbols. Really, anyone could do that but if nothing else, his name gives credibility to the role.
Speaking of symbols, hidden imagery, and Tom Hanks, a friend pointed out that if you look at the movie poster and squint Hanks looks a lot like Steven Seagal. Now there would be a 'Da Vinci Code' to see. Seagal would mumble something about symbols and then slap the stuffing out of wave after wave of French police. Oh I forgot to mention, 'The Da Vinci Code' takes place across Europe but starts out in France. Without giving anything away, Hanks is called to a strange crime scene in France to see if he can’t decipher bizarre symbols and messages around the crime scene.
I won’t go into detail but Hanks ends up on the run and along the way picks up Sophie (Audrey Tautou of 'Amélie' and 'Dirty Pretty Things' fame) and tries to solve the mystery behind a series of murders popping up across Europe. Jean Reno turns up as a driven police officer and the underrated Jürgen Prochnow makes a small appearance as well. While none of the cast is particularly bad, none of them really seem to be enjoying their roles save Sir Ian McKellen whole plays Langdon’s friend, Sir Leigh Teabing. McKellen shows why he is such a great actor (no matter how ridiculous the role and/ or the dialogue the guy can make it credible.) Here, he is game for every facet of his brief role and his performance reminded me of a role torn from some film noir.
'The Da Vinci Code' was directed by Ron Howard who doesn’t really have style that I can identify (like oh say a Martin Scorsese) but he has directed an impressive variety of films. I’ve enjoyed many pictures that Howard has made and disliked a few as well. With this one, I enjoyed it, am glad I saw it, and will give it a modest recommendation but I’m not sure that I will watch it again anytime soon. Howard seems to have a real comfort with effects, often making them a part of his films in a way that makes them work without standing out.
Here, he uses a similar style that he did in ' A Beautiful Mind' when he showed how mathematician John Nash saw mathematical patterns. The way Langdon sees symbols and messages appears with a similar visual flair. The best way I can describe it is to say that signs and symbols appear highlighted as Langdon looks at them, so that they float before him and rearrange themselves to form messages. It is an effective technique that works well in this film and worked well (maybe even a bit better) in 'A Beautiful Mind'.
So, what can I say? 'The Da Vinci Code' is an enjoyable film that is probably a bit too long. I suspect that if you like the book you will like the film. (I am apparently one of the last people on Earth that has not read the book.) Moderately Recommended.
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