By Christian DiMartino
It’s hard to believe that Ron Howard’s The Da Vinci Code turned 10 this year. I remember the month of its release like it was yesterday.
I wanted to scramble to the theatre to see it, but you see, I was in the third grade and had no way of getting there. Also, my momma didn’t really want me to see it, due to the controversy surrounding it’s big twist (which I will reveal. I’m not even going to say “spoiler alert” because, well, it’s been 10 years. It’s expired) and the controversial nature of the story itself. So, I waited til it was on DVD.
Now, aside from the controversy, The Da Vinci Code was actually slammed by most critics, calling it dull and boring and what not. To this day, it sits at 25% on Rotten Tomatoes. But yet… it’s always been a film I’ve been drawn to. Yes it’s overlong and absurd, but that’s just the thing: it’s not a film that you can take seriously. I feel like Howard and Co. acknowledge that. The way I’ve always seen it is that if you can look past its ridiculousness, you might just find yourself getting caught up in the mystery.
So with the latest Robert Langdon adventure, Inferno, on the horizon, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on this film. And in some ways, defend it. Because while it’s not great, I really just don’t see what all the fuss is about. It’s fun, dammit (though the sequel/prequel Angels & Demons is superior).
The film is based on the bestselling smash by Dan Brown (a novel I haven’t read, but what else is new). Tom Hanks, one of my favorite actors, plays Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, and let me just say, he sports a mullet in this movie so ridiculous you’ll be relieved when its gone in his next film. While in Paris, Langdon is called to The Louvre, where a dead body lies, with markings all around it.
Said body is that of the museum curator, who happens to be the grandfather of a cryptologist named Sophie (Audrey Tatou). Soon, Langdon realizes that the reason he was brought to The Louvre is actually his arrest, so soon Langdon and Sophie are on the run, in a race against the clock to find the killer (a deranged albino named Silas, played by Paul Bettany). Oh yeah, and along the way, they make a huge religious discovery.
What’s that discovery? Well, it’s the reason why Bible thumpers got really pissed. BASICALLY, Jesus got it on with Mary Magdalene. And had a baby. And Sophie just so happens to be the great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great
Granddaughter of Jesus Christ.
How this all connects doesn’t matter. It’s all a bunch of hooey. But c’mon, it’s wildly entertaining hooey. There is a plethora of talent involved with The Da Vinci Code, including Ian McKellan, Jean Reno, Alfred Molina, and you know what? They all put a good face on it. Everyone here is fairly convincing. It’s a film that does take itself seriously, which might be why everyone hates it. But yet it’s just entertaining enough for it all to work.
Hanks and his mullet carry us through this fascinating but ludicrous mystery. While what they’re selling is bonkers, they all sell it beautifully. I love Hans Zimmer’s score, and the film as a whole just looks great. Remember National Treasure? This is kind of like the dark, creepy, and somewhat disturbing version of that. Oh wait. People hate that movie too.
I’ve just always found The Da Vinci Code enjoyable, because I feel like it’s a film that really just sets out to entertain. And truth be told, if you allow it to, it will. But if you look too far into it, well… you know.
That, or maybe I just have a weakness for Ron Howard films that everyone hates (If you recall, I am the one who gave How the Grinch Stole Christmas three and a half stars, and I feel no real shame).