“The Da Vinci Code” is a name that has lived in infamy through the early 21st century. Based on Dan Brown’s 2003 book of the same name, its story sent shocks through Christendom not just for centering on a secret that would upend Christianity as the world knows it, but for Brown promoting this secret as truth. As with most popular novels, the film adaptation soon followed in 2006.
While the movie has a few weak spots holding it back, the majority of it is well done. Tom Hanks stars as Robert Langdon alongside Audrey Tautou’s Sophie Nevue, two cryptologists who are set on a race for their lives to the Christian Church’s greatest secret: the existence of the Holy Grail. The pair must unravel clues and riddles leading from one work of art to the next in a search taking them from France to England to the Holy Land itself.
A stellar cast is the keystone to the film’s strength, delivering characters in a believable manner. Hanks portrays Robert Langdon, an intelligent but somewhat awkward Harvard professor, and Tautou is Sophie Neveu, a fresh-faced heroine who rises to the challenge set before her. Paul Bettany plays the religious fanatic Silas, determined to fulfill his master’s wishes and repay his debt. Jean Reno’s Captain Bezu Fache is a nearly equal fanatic, though filled with justice and determination to catch the killer instead of religious fervour. Finally, Ian McKellen acts as the aged scholar Leigh Teabing, who is somewhat unsettling but devoted to finding the Grail.
It is the film’s unpredictability that keeps it engaging for its two-and-a-half hour length. The many twists and turns leave the audience not knowing what will happen with each step. It is very difficult to predict and that is what makes it so fun.
The use of various kinds of symbols is what the film’s intrigue revolves around. A crime scene in the likeness of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous “Vitruvian Man” sets the stage for the adventure. Following a trail of messages hidden with famous images such as the Mona Lisa, the Fleur-de-lis and Sir Isaac Newton’s tomb, they search for the Holy Grail, one of the greatest artifacts of world history.
The film uses other historical figures to push the narrative as well, such as Charlemagne, Mary Magdalene and the Knights Templar. At the film’s end, when Robert Langdon discovers the Holy Grail, he kneels before it, head bowed and eyes closed. Whether he is actually praying before the sacred relic, the imagery is drawing parallel with the Knights Templar of old, who protected and prayed before the Grail. This last imagery is made all the more potent by Sophie’s dubbing Langdon as a knight only a few minutes before.
As far as downfalls go, there is one that is most prominent, though hardly the fault of the film. “The Da Vinci Code,” for the weight its name bears, is not a particularly outstanding film. Yes, it is fun and mysterious, and yes, it has a star-studded cast, but it doesn’t quite live up to its name in terms of grandeur. Unfortunately, this is the fate of many films that have too much hype preceding them. It just doesn’t have that feeling of specialty, that this is phenomenon-worthy.
“The Da Vinci Code” is still a good film, however. If one can put aside its connection to the larger controversy, they will be able to enjoy it for what it is, appreciating its intricacies and a chance of stepping into a thrilling conspiracy that is worth the adventure.