Sunday, May 28, 2006


Written by Hombre Divertido

I am one of the seventeen people who have not read the book (we have meetings). So other than the conversations and opening weekend sermon at the Church where I am an active member, and knowing that it is one of the most controversial novels of our time, I had little information about the story.

With that said; this is a good film.

Like Michael Jordan in basketball, Tom Hanks continues to take something that a select group of people in the world can do well, and make it look extremely easy. Hanks has the ability to play a character, who is obviously an expert in his field, and is thrown into a situation that puts the character out of his element or over his head, and make the audience feel like he is reacting like the average guy, while consistently reminding us that he is in control. He did this well in Castaway and Apollo 13, but is at his best here. The problem with such a gift is that many people will see this as a bland performance. Subtle is not Bland.

Late one evening, Louvre curator Jacques Sauniere (Jean-Pierre Marielle) is murdered. Before he expires, the curator leaves a number of clues to the big secret. Summoned to the Louvre, Robert Langdon (Hanks) quickly comes under the suspicion of inspector Fache (Jean Reno).

As we watch Hanks’ portrayal of Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor of symbology, weave his way through the maze of clues while being chased by police and others, we see both brilliance and vulnerability intertwined by a master at his craft. We can’t help but enjoy the ride.

Hanks leads a cast quite capable of keeping up with him including the always enjoyable Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, and Alfred Molina. Helping Langdon deal with his pursuers while he solves the puzzles is noted police cryptologist and gamine Sophie Neveu played quite satisfyingly by Audrey Tautou. Doing the lion’s share of the killing in the film is a self-flagellating albino monk played surprisingly effectively by Paul Bettany. Bettany has not made me cringe this much since I sat through Wimbledon.

Ron Howard directs, in what is virtually a no win situation, as trying to bring such popular literature to the screen often leads to unfair comparison. Nonetheless, the film is visually compelling, and aided well by the score of Hans Zimmer which is as subtle and effective as Hanks.

As I noted above, this is a good film. Not great, but good. We are encouraged to find that movie police, regardless of which side of the pond they are on, are inept. The change of pace in the last thirty minutes does seem a bit slow and anti-climatic. Sure, there are flaws, but it’s $9.00 well spent.

Recommendation: Let go of the book, and the fact that this fictional account does attempt to undermine the core values of Christianity, and sit back and enjoy an intense at times puzzle that is fun to solve.