Rakesh's movie talk
Da Vinci's Code (2006)

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Directed by Ron Howard
Written by Akiva Goldsman (based on a novel by Dan Brown)
Starring Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno and Ian McKellan

I got a shocking news for you. I have never read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. I have also never read any of the Harry Potter books. And when I was a kid…

Let’s stop there. But shocking isn’t it. I am a bit too narrow minded when it comes to books, but Brown’s book still do fall in the category that I read – crime thrillers. The only contemporary I read is Elmore Leonard (and he is 80 something years old) and that’s it. I did browse the pages in bookstores, but the prose failed to grab my attention (and many critics thought the book was badly written. I don’t know. I leave it to them to judge).

And so the movie came. I thought it would be a nice short cut for me…like Harry Potter, I do not have to read the book.

My verdict? It’s okay. Decent thriller.

My complaint is the length. They should have cut it down from 2 and a half hour to two or lesser. It would have the movie faster paced, crispier and less talkative. Not that I am complaining about the talkative part. I thought it was very well shot, with expositions and the historical accounts running in the background and foreground.

Another disappointment is Tom Hank’s performance as Robert Langdon. I mean, come on, Hanks is one of the best actors there are right now, and he is so freakin’ dull here. Maybe it was written that way. Maybe it would have been different if Tom Cruise played him. But they should have spruced up the character a bit. Somehow we don’t care much about him.

That brings me to Audrey Tautou. I have never seen any of her performance, but I think she got a great future. And I can’t take my goddamned eyes off her legs. Damn. Now, that is the most blasphemous thing that happened during the course of watching this movie (as in my case movie is like my religion) and in a serious thriller like this I am forbidden to enjoy female body parts. (She’s my wallpaper, now)

Speaking of blasphemy, we all are aware of the controversy generated by this movie and I don’t want to talk about it. We Malaysians are lucky that the movie made it with very, very little cuts. Treat it like any fiction and be done with it. Take Indiana Jones movies for instance. They all involved religion, and if you are to take them seriously …god knows how many heads would have rolled. But audience then were not bothered. Ah, I don’t want to argue anymore.

Other than that, this is a very competently made little thriller (little?) by a very competent hack. How dare do I call Ron Howard a hack? Hack, as opposed to auteur. And Hack is not necessarily a bad word. My favourite actor/director and role model (and Guru) Clint Eastwood himself is a hack. A damned good hack. And Ron Howard ranks high up there with Eastwood and Spielberg as great hacks.

With a mediocre script in hand (by his recent constant collaborator Akiva Goldsman) Howard can only do so much. The thing that attracted the film studio is only the best selling status. Hell, if a phone book were to make it in New York Times best selling list, they will find a way to film it. So, there is no blaming Howard if the movie moves along in snail pace. Usually ‘talkative’ scene is detrimental to a thriller. Just ask Hitchcock. But being that there is so much to explain, Howard just abandoned the ‘thrill’ parts – yes, this coming from the director of Backdraft and Ransom.

My favourite performance from this movie actually comes from the very character which ignited many flames of anger – the Albino assassin, played by Paul Bettany. I think he hit it right on dot. This lad got a good future in him.

So, history will speak of this flick as a decent thriller made out of best seller. If at all the book gets some kind of revival in the future, I think it would be right for another director to attempt to film this movie again. This time, abandon the talk and cut to the chase.