Code Unknown

Film Attempting to get away from the compulsive news coverage of the repulsive massacre, I finally got around to watching the film version of The Da Vinci Code. I've not read the book and the closest I've been to a Dan Brown text is an amateur radio adaptation I heard during a class at university of Angels and Demons.

That meant I was really visiting the story cold with only the words of the critics who circled the film on its release and particularly those who went in for the kill. It was greeted by a range of one star reviews and controversy since some newspaper film reviews were apparently ordered to add a couple of stars to that lest they incur the fury of a distributor ready to pull access.

All of which meant I was ready for the longest two and half hours of my life in which I'd spend most of the running time shouting my disapproval which regular readers will realise is usually my home response to the really bad movies (usually at the cinema I sit down and my seat and sigh under my breath).

But somewhere in the middle of the first half hour a strange thing happened. I began to enjoy myself and to some degree I was engrossed in the story. I know. Considering that Paul Bettany's been employed to play an albino monk and Tom Hanks spends most of the film with a fixed look of concern on his face, I should really, really be annoyed.

Except Audrey Tautou's really quite good as the agent and Sir Ian McKellan shows that he'll make any script and any set of bizarre claims sound plausible. It's also a visually arresting film, and although at times it could be accused of looking like a beer commercial the integration of flashbacks and the integration of Hank's character's thought processes with the environment is a neat trick.

It's too long certainly and some of the action sequences fall flat -though the backwards driving of the smart car through the streets is fun, too many of the interminable dashes on foot are less so. To an extent it's a riot for the wrong reasons - my favourite line from Hanks is: 'I need to get to a library', specifically 'Chelsea Library' when the British Library at St Pancras is clearly closer (perhaps they couldn't get permission to film).

All of which makes me wonder why the critics ran after it with pitchforks quite so much. Perhaps it was the Cannes launch, the hype, the smugness - go in expecting to hate thing and you generally will - which is something I learned week in and out watching Torchwood. Some complained that it amounts to little more than a couple of people standing around in dusty rooms spouting inconsistent fantasies and fiction.

I think the problem was that for all its apparent complexity and reliance on religious revelation it is in essence a treasure hunt film with a range of clues taking Hanks and Tautou to the next plot point. If you assume that the conjecture surrounding Christ's paternity is merely a mcguffin in the same order of the Ark of the Covenant it becomes an Indiana Jones adventure given the trappings of a religious thriller, with the Hanks a more serious version of that tomb raider, Opus Dai filling the role of the Nazis and Tatou as the 'Jones girl'. It's a boys own story, plain and simple and on that level it's worth a look.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think all of the controversy and hype ruined it for me. Just didn't meet my expectations.


Can I recommend "Trust the Man"?