10 Years: “The Da Vinci Code”

Adapting incredibly successful and popular novels is never easy. There’s the whole being a book adaptation, but then you have to take even more caution as the fanbase will be expecting something not simply good, but epic! One wrong move could doom the whole film, or if you’re the start of a franchise, the entire thing.

The Columbia Pictures film “The Da Vinci Code”, is an enjoyable film that takes well known things and makes them mysterious, exciting, and somewhat dangerous.

This thriller stars Tom Hanks (upcoming films “Sully”, “Inferno”), Audrey Tautou (upcoming “Eternite”, “Phantom Boy”), Ian McKellen (upcoming “The Dresser”, “Vicious”), Alfred Molina (“Angie Tribeca”, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”), Jurgen Prochnow (upcoming “Kundschafter des Friedens”, “Hitman: Agent 47”), Paul Bettany (“Captain America: Civil War”, “Legend”), and Jean Reno (Brothers of the Wind”, “The Squad”).

The film is directed by Ron Howard (upcoming “Inferno”, “In the Heart of the Sea”) and written by Akiva Goldsman (upcoming “Rings”, “The 5th Wave”). It is based on the novel of the same name by Dan Brown.

The film originally opened on May 19, 2006.

In some ways, I thought I’d never get around to writing about this. When I made my schedule for this month I hadn’t originally factored in the television Upfronts Week, which happens every year at about this time. While I enjoyed that, it’s finally over and I can focus on this entertaining film. I can’t believe the film’s 10 years old. It doesn’t seem like that long. It’s interesting that I’m finally getting around to watching it for the first time in its entirety, as I’ve seen it on TV so many times, and sometimes watched it, but I’ve never done so in full. I always managed to skip some part and avoid having to write about it. Now I’m glad I did that as I get to celebrate this film’s first 10 years! It was certainly worth it, even if it’s not the best thing in the world. It could’ve been much, much worse.

For some reason, over the course of these many years, I’ve been uncertain of what I think about this film, but managed to catch it quite a bit. I’m not sure why that is or was. I discovered, and can proudly say I find this to be an engaging film overall. There was never a moment I wasn’t captivated. I not only couldn’t look away, but I had to know quite desperately, what the next clue was and where it led and what it all meant. To some that idea may be a bit silly, but for me it says two things. One, I’m really invested in it and the film’s succeeded in this way, two, it holds well even after all these years of me knowing how the film turns out. To have me almost forget what happens, yet deliver it like the first time, is amazing. I find that this time was definitely different than other films that can pull me in again.

A part of this, I believe, I how it came together as a thriller. Just because a a film looks like a thriller, or has the makings of one, or is a thriller but is stupidly classified as something else, doesn’t mean that it’s going to come together in a way that makes it worth it. Some thrillers just don’t work, and that’s because of the story. Fortunately this film works pretty well as a thriller, even though it’s not a super intense one. Thankfully the story simply played a big part in this and was good enough to bring things together.

The story involves clues, well known art, historical objects, times, symbols, codes, etc., so it’s difficult to not make an interesting film and build a nonstop story for the truth. It really does all work. Even the casting is impressive. Could it have been better? I’m not sure. I guess it depends on who was being considered. I take no interest with anyone, even if, like Hanks’ character, the information comes too quickly. I’m someone who enjoys historical films, or films that use history in some fun or unique way. This film, more likely than not, like with the source material, takes some liberties and bends information and/or fact to suit a specific purpose. The thing that had to be overcome in both was getting people to buy into it. I, like so many others, definitely bought into. It all seemed so realistic and plausible, which is half of how Brown no doubt started to get inspired with this story. I’m sure we could debate back and forth anything and everything in this film, whether it could be so in reality or not, but I don’t want to do that. I know enough about history, especially that which was covered in this film, and can believe that it’s possible, which is part of what makes this film even more fascinating to me. Like with “The Mummy” franchise, I can really get into it because of my love of the period and the fact that the story was just fun and everything I needed the film to be. Oh, and in this case, all the symbology, myths and what have you. Those were icing on the already amazing cake!

Just something that I feel I need to mention, as it may help me to make sense of it, although I’ve just typed this much, and I’m suspecting it won’t. Oh well, here it goes. There was something to me that seemed off about the pacing of this film. I remember also feeling this way the first time I saw this film. I didn’t think it was too slow or uneven, nothing one would traditionally think of. No, for me it lies mainly in the fact that I’ve read the book and can recall what that was like. For me, it really shows once we got Hanks and Tautou investigating the clues left in the Louvre. I think some of it has to do with the fact that, yes, we know these people are smart, and have deep knowledge of ancient history, something like that, but everything just comes to them. There’s not enough thought seemingly in the process, yet they get from place to place, with all the answers to the clues. I do know that at some points they show these things being worked out, but it doesn’t ever seem like enough time. While it’s a bit of an annoyance each time I watch this film, it’s not a major one that overshadows the rest of the film.

Okay, okay, one last thing. I really thought I wasn’t going to mention it, but then I started talking it out and it warranted a mini-mention. The acting and characters brought to life by the various actors. All good. All perfect in their respective roles, mainly as I really have no idea who else was considered. The problem is, this wasn’t a film that was about the acting or about characters. Yes you saw good acting, but nothing stellar or truly memorable. Yes you got some nice drama and character insight, but it wasn’t really deep enough for you to care about. Most of it only served the immediate plot, but at least it helped you to like the characters enough to not become annoyed. There, I’ve said my piece.

The purpose of some films is to purely entertain. If any given film manages to do a bit more than that, then it’s probably a true winner. While this film did give me all I could ask of it, it never really achieved that special level I’ve gotten used to of late. However, and this is interesting all on its own, that’s okay. I feel like this is the first time I’ve truly just enjoyed a film because it was well executed and fun. Pure entertainment. Sometimes that’s all you really need. Even obsessing over what is or isn’t in the film isn’t needed or worth it. It’ll just ruin the fun you’re having.

Much more exciting and informative second trailer:


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