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Friday, May 26, 2006 

Review: The Da Vinci Code.

If Ron Howard were a culinary fellow, and his adaptation of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code were a soothing three course set, I could only comfortably akin it to a fully-baked gastronomical disaster: not so much tasteless as vapid, not so much shockingly disjointed as it is mired with an arid sensibility. Howard and his buffet Akiva Goldsman have slunk back into mediocrity, if indeed they were ever out of it, creating a world so utterly uninterested in entertaining, populated by non-personable persons, that it's only sure-fire use would be a cure for insomnia.

Brainy Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is summonsed to the Louvre following the murder of casual acquaintance Jacques Sauniere and is warned by flaky Sophie Neuveu (Audrey Tatou) he is in "grave danger". Police chief Leon, sorry Bezu Fache (Jean Reno), has ulterior motives. Or something. And everything is connected to Leonardo Da Vinci, his paintings, and a crazed albino monk. But do we really care? Isn't this just an appetiser for the main event to come? Alas, no. Howard's biggest set piece is a high-speed reverse chase in a Smart car, surmounting only to a smashed wing mirror. Hardly what one expects from an ad campaign bristling with Clint Mansell and set to make a gajillion dollars. Not that action should act as the be all and end all of a summer tentpole release (although it's preferable) but the film seems so hell-bent on Bible un-bashing and simply brooding around darkened corners; Tom Hanks may as well be painting a wall for two and a half hours. We might have had a little more fun. Goldsman, not one to shy away from a helping of turkey, has seeped any personality from one of the world's most affable everymen, and that in itself can be considered the film's only remarkable achievement.

Critics have been attacking The Da Vinci Code from all frontiers, but they don't seem to tap into its primal undoing - the lack of narrative drive. Howard has stuck to novel's pages like semen, and as such one can only interpret the final product as a bungled history lesson. Nowhere throughout the film's lengthy running time are we given license to halt plot and enjoy the proceedings, it's drivel followed by more drivel, and of course the 'casual' and grainy flashback - a device so festooned in screaming at an audience- it's easy to feign superiority over such a limp squib. If Da Vinci had loosened its shackles at any point and allowed itself to become the dizzying "treasure hunt" it promised, we may have had something. Instead we get a middle-brow, painfully average and non-controversial mess, whose only saving grace may be the utilisation of one Ian McKellen. Frankly, I'd rather go hungry.

Verdict: 4/10

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