The Da Vinci Code (2006)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tatou, Sir Ian McKellan, Paul Bettany, Jean Reno, Alfred Molina

Directed by: Ron Howard

Rating: 1 2

Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou are wildly unenthusiastic in The Da Vinci Code

So dark the con of Ron. Howard, that is - the gentle, deft, perceptive director somehow duped into producing this ponderous, pedantic pile of poop; convinced by sinister financial powers to translate Dan Brown's trashy airport bestseller word for word onto the silver screen, illustrating each daft, cod-historical notion with Open University style slides and adhering to every ridiculous line of dialogue ('I'm from ze French FBI' being a particularly fine example) as if it were indeed Holy Writ.

The main difference between the book and the film? You can skip read the book - probably in less time than it takes this sluggish screen version to unfold. And the trouble is, once you slow down the wafer-thin plot and explain it in words of one syllable, you realise just what a pile of nonsense the whole thing is. As any old codger who works at Rosslyn Chapel can tell you: 'There's no holy grail down there - we had the carpet up just the other week for the amateur dramatics.'

Sir Ian McKellan is having a ball as Sir Lee Teabag, sorry Teabing...

And speaking of amateur dramatics, even the starry cast can't save this lame film. Sir Ian McKellan (definitely Hollywood's bad guy of choice at present) is clearly having a ball as the hammy Grail aficionado Sir Lee Teabag - sorry, Teabing - surely the world's most stupidly named villain since Oddjob. But if he's having fun, he's the only one. Tom Hanks looks alternately bored and bemused throughout, while Audrey Tatou looks lovely, but doesn't seem to understand what she's saying most of the time (which takes some doing, given the laborious over-explanation that dominates much of the running time - I guess that's what happens when French people leave clues for other French people in English.) And as for poor Paul Bettany! Usually this charismatic actor lights up the screen with charm and intensity (think A Knight's Tale or Master and Commander) but, badly miscast as the mad, self-flagellating albino monk Silas, here he just looks ridiculous.

Paul Bettany attempts to run away in shame as Silas the mad monk in The Da Vinci Code

So thumbs up for Sir Ian, and thumbs up for a cracking score, the Smart car race through the streets of Paris and some lovely location shooting, including, of course, our very own Rosslyn Chapel (although was it really necessary to cast quite such dour, pitchfork-wielding peasants as the Scottish guardians of the Grail?). And, hmm, nil pointes for pretty much everything else in this heavy-handed, humourless, distinctly unthrilling thriller. To summarise: llobocks. Crack that anagram, Langdon.

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