May 18, 2006

It's 3.30am and this is what I think of Da Vinci

A few years ago, I wrote a story about a character who had been locked inside a deep freezer as a child. I learnt that you cannot add depth, and therefore engender sympathy, in a protagonist by having them vaguely traumatised by an incident from years ago. Strong characters comprise many past moments, and they carry with them multiple fears and hopes. Shoe-horning in a bit of claustrophobia is just weak.

Welcome to The DaVinci Code movie, starring Tom Hanks who, yes, fell in a well as a child. He should have stayed there, because the 'Code is a calamitous mess of ill-thought theory and tedious plotting.


My Photoshop rendering of the Dan Brown cover should say it all, really (edit: this refers to an image now long deleted I'm afraid). The crimes of this film are manifold.

The dialogue is saggy; most scenes could have been half as long even before taking into account the golden rule of not drowning your character's lines in clumsy back-story exposition.

The acting is pisspoor in places, with the French letting the side down thanks to the usually excellent Audrey Tatou and Jean Reno.

The plot drives this movie at the expense of any character depth, which is a pain because that plot largely consists of bad puns such as "Alexander Pope" and "a pope". Oh look how they can get confused!

>Damn camera

Half way through the film I wondered when the damn camera would stop moving, obsessed as it was with tracking shots, pans, and authentic shakiness for running scenes, plane scenes, car scenes, any scenes really.

The film is let down in so many details too: in just one moment of many dropped directorial balls, we are treated to a moment of infuriating deux ex machina when doves just happen to distract a gunman at a crucial point. I would have had Tom Hanks see the doves and clap his hands in the echoey church, therefore providing himself with a way out rather than relying on a chance happening.


Sir Ian McKellen is the saving grace in this hellish film; his character is tortured, funny and fascinating and it is a pleasure to be engrossed in a McKellen masterclass. He is worth the ticket price alone, although Paul Bettany's ice-cold Silas provides more than a few moments of dark glee.

As someone who professes more than a passing interest in Christian teaching, it is not the theological mumbo jumbo I object to. It's such a weak film, the angels have nothing to fear. However, we are told in one of the numerous moments of exposition-through-dialogue that "God does not forgive murder". There is little hope, then, for the soul of Ron Howard, as he has taken a perfectly good art form and bludgeoned it to kingdom come.