If you take the most popular book in recent years, you should have the most popular movie since The Lord of the Rings, right? Wrong. Though the film was hotly debated, its cinematic quality and popularity aren't nearly as high as one would expect. Amid protests, pending lawsuits, and outright denouncements by Catholic officials, Ron Howard released his adaptation of Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code.
American symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and French cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) are on a trans-European quest to solve riddles left by Louvre curator, Langdon's hero and Neveu's grandfather, Jacques Saunier, as he lay dying. The riddles and subsequent quest allegedly lead to the true identity and whereabouts of the famed Holy Grail. Hot in pursuit of the thinking man's Bonnie and Clyde is Javert-ian French police captain Bezu Feche (Jean Reno), intent on pinning the murder of Suanier on Langdon and Neveu, and albino monk, Silas (Paul Bettany) under the command of a mysterious telephone voice known only as The Teacher.
With a pedigree such as the most popular book in the world, two Academy Award winners (Hanks, Howard and writer Akiva Goldsman), French film superstars (Tautou and Reno) and Gandalf (Ian McKellen), you'd wonder how such a film could fail.
Well, how about the miscast of Howard as director. Howard lacks the vision to properly adapt the novel and bring it to life. Some of the blame does go to his Cinderella Man scribe Akiva Goldsman for not writing a fitting script. But Howard's awkwardness is more prominent. If we were going to pick name directors for this film, Steven Spielberg would have been better choice, but I think David Fincher (Se7en and Fight Club) would have been perfect.
The whole production felt rushed. Having just read the book, a lot of plot points were fresh in my mind, and that may have clouded the comprehension of certain things, which I think Howard and Goldsman were counting on. Looking back on it, the first 30-45 minutes were very rushed, and I don't think things were adequately explained. They were still referenced and used in the movie, but not explained well. It suffered from the, what I call, Godfather syndrome: referencing things from the book at the wrong time. They could have taken their time with the film, and it would have told the same story, and been a lot better.
Hanks was out of place as Landon, our hero. He doesn't have or project the same presence about him that Langdon should have. Might I suggest seasoned conspiracy theory veteran David Duchovny? As with Mission:Impossible:III, the supporting cast was impeccably put together, and the one true weakness of the cast is unfortunately the keystone (maybe it's just a bad year for actors named Tom).
Slightly better than your average summer fair, but still doesn't hold up when put against the equally action oriented yet wholly more insightful X-Men franchise.