The Da Vinci Code (2006) – Ron Howard

Director Ron Howard pairs with Tom Hanks to bring Dan Brown’s incredibly popular novel, The Da Vinci Code to the screen. Hanks portrays symbologist Robert Langdon, who previously popped up in Brown’s novel Angels and Demons, but it was the subject matter, and the way it tied into art and some historical moments that really caused Code to resonate among readers, which led to its leap to movie screens.

Langdon, who is lecturing in Paris, is summoned to the Louvre to have a look at a dead body. The dying man left a coded series of clues behind that send Langdon and the dead man’s niece, Sophie (Audrey Tautou) on a race for the mythical Holy Grail.

They are hindered and pursued by an ultra-right group of Opus Dei, a sect of the Catholic church, who use Silas (Paul Bettany) as their hunter/killer, they are chased by local police (led by Jean Reno) and seek guidance from one of the foremost grail researchers, Sir Teabing (Ian McKellen).

Tracing hidden clues in the works of Da Vinci and interpreting actual historical events, locations, and more in a new way to tell a thrilling story, Langdon and Sophie begin to realize that they are in over their heads, and they may not be looking for some magical cup, but something that could upend the Christian religion completely and what would that mean.

The film features a beautiful score by Hans Zimmer and has fantastic location work, as well as high-profile actors in almost every role lacks a little of the wonder and discovery that was conveyed so well in the novel. The fast-paced text still allowed the reader to attempt to puzzle things out on their own, while the film leads the viewers from expository connection to expository connection, and I think that causes a bit of a stumble.

But I love the idea at work here of a secret so big that could cause some major changes in organized religion and what people would do to preserve it and stop it.

Hanks, who sports a truly horrible hairstyle in the film, is always engaging and likable, so the choice for him to play Langdon makes perfect sense. Hanks is someone the viewer innately trusts and believes in, if he tells you something you trust him, and getting the viewer to buy into the story is key.

Howard and Hanks pull that off easily, and while it’s fun, there are times when it feels like the viewer is being led around by the nose. The Da Vinci Code film lacks the punch of the novel (or the illustrated edition) but it still is an enjoyable romp that actually has some big ideas worthy of discussion.

And it launched a trilogy of films that I’ll continue exploring next time.

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