Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon0
The Da Vinci Code
No film since “The Last Temptation of Christ” has invoked as much controversy as The Da Vinci Code based on the book of the same name by Dan Brown. Prior to the film even being screened for the press, cries ran out to ban the film and its message that some find blasphemous. Fortunately calmer heads have prevailed and the film by Director Ron Howard has arrived in a wash of media frenzy not seen since Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.
If you are seeing a pattern forming, you would be correct as it seems that few topics can raise ire and wrath more than the topic of religion, especially if the film proposes a viewpoint that differs from the traditional beliefs that are given by the church, bible, and history.
In the film, a monk appears to murder an elderly man who with his last ounces of strength, manages to leave a cryptic riddle on his body. The bizarre nature of the crime prompts French police inspector Fache (Jean Reno) to travel to the Louvre to investigate the crime. A clue at the crime scene causes the police to summer Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) from a lecture hall where he is signing his latest book on symbols. Since the deceased was supposed to meet Langdon earlier in the day Langdon has fallen under suspicion for the crime.
As he attempts to decipher the message at the crime scene, Langdon encounters a police cryptologists named Sophie (Audrey Tautou), who informs Robert that he is in danger and soon the duo are fleeing from the police after deciphering some hidden clues at the crime scene.
Before either Robert or Audrey knows what is happening, they are being accused of multiple murders and on the run. As the clues begin to mount, the mystery takes an even stranger turn by the discovery of an artifact that when unlocked, should contain a map.
Seeking refuge and help, the duo arrive at the estate of Sir Leigh Teabing (Sir Ian Mc Kellen), who proceeds to tell Robert and Sophie that the clues they have uncovered are part of a cover-up that segments of the church will stop at nothing to keep secret. The nature of this secret is such that should it become public knowledge, then they very foundations of history, faith, and the church could be shaken to their core.
As the mystery becomes clearer, the group are attacked by a Monk named Silas (Paul Bettany), who has been doing the violent work of someone know as The Teacher in an effort to discover the location of artifacts and those attempting to uncover the mystery.
What follows is a frantic race that travels from Paris to London in an effort to get to the bottom of the mystery and unravel the true nature of the mystery and the secret that people are willing to kill for in order to protect.
While some may find the mystery, the players, and their motivations confusing, the film does grab hold and moves along at a solid pace. Ron Howard once again shows his skill by directing a film that is different from his other works, yet rich in its visuals and complexity. The scenic locales of the film enhance the mystery (For those who have not read the book), as they attempt to decipher the clues along with the characters.
The work from the cast was solid as Hanks gives a very good if restrained performance in his portrayal. Mc Kellen is a very nice blend of elegance and old world charm that lifts up every scene in which he is in.
While there are those who will lambaste the film for the message it provides, I chose to look at it as a film that does what movies should, entertain and make you think. The film is not saying its assertions are hard and cold facts, what it is doing is providing a vehicle for debate.
In college I was told that through debate comes knowledge and growth for a society. This was common in ancient Greek and Roman society where issues of the day would be debated in open forums. It seems that we as a society have become too insistent to take things at face value and have forgotten that the very nature of the human experience is to question, grow, and seek our own answers. As such the film is a great example of how Hollywood at times gets it right and provides solid entertainment that will stimulate as well as entertain.
4 stars out of 5