There's rarely been a book that has captured the public's imagination the way Dan Brown's thriller THE DA VINCI CODE did in the early 2000's.
Combining elements of a thriller, a drama, history and religion, the massive hit was bound to be adapted to the screen and would prove to be a difficult task in 2006.
Tom Hanks is well cast as Professor Robert Langdon. An expert cryptologist, Langdon is drawn into a massive conspiracy when a friend he was schedule to meet in Paris is killed in the Louvre.
Before he dies, the victim writes Langdon's name in blood on the floor, but it proves to be only the first clue in a fever pitched mystery that leads quickly into an abyss of centuries old deception and lies.
The secrets weave a tangled path that are a lot of fun to solve here (not nearly as much fun as they were to discover in the book, but still well told) and Director Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Backdraft, Cocoon) keeps things moving along amazingly well, especially with all the exposition he needs to layout for the viewer.
He's helped immensely by screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (The Client, I Robot, Cinderella Man) and a terrific cast, especially Audrey Tautou as Sophie, Ian Mckellen as Sir Leigh Teabing, Jean Reno as French police Captain Fache and Paul Bettany as one very twisted Monk.
I loved the book and enjoyed the movie when it came out, but I just watched the Director's cut which has been expanded to nearly three hours. This will be bad news for those in the audience that thought the original version dragged, but I thought the extra time allowed the film to better lay the groundwork for some of the best secret reveals.
Hanks is truly our generation's Jimmy Stewart, perfect at playing the everyman American caught up in a story much bigger than he is. Like Stewart in "Rear Window" or Cary Grant in "North By Northwest", Hanks creates a professor that rises to the occasion and does the right thing at all costs.
Hanks and Howard would team up again to craft further film adaptions of Brown's Langdon novels, including "Angels and Demons" in 2009 and "Inferno" filming now for release in late 2016.
THE DA VINCI CODE played even better for me today than it did ten years ago, perhaps I'm more removed from the book or the longer version was just that much better, but this rare commercial & artistic thriller would make Da Vinci proud in its intricacy and gets a B.