Movie Reviews: Da Vinci Code & Mission: Impossible 3
I saw this a few weeks ago, but I’m just now getting around to the review. I wrote reviews of the first two Missions in an earlier article, so I want to continue with the newest installment in the franchise.
To recap the earlier reviews, I very much enjoyed the first movie. It was a little confusing, but very suspenseful and had some good action. I did not like the second movie. I don’t know what John Woo is smoking these days, but it must really be some good stuff because he’s focusing on getting more of that stuff than he is on his movies. When I saw MI:2 for the second time, it was marginally better, but still not a very good movie. Once again, the action was good, but the rest of the movie was a mess. It was almost a spoof on a Mission Impossible movie. Click here to see the full reviews of Mission: Impossible 1 and 2. So I was glad they waited 6 years to try to get the third one right.
In those intervening six years, though, Tom decided to make one movie I hated (Vanilla Sky), one movie I only somewhat hated (War of the Worlds) and two movies I kinda liked (Last Samurai and Minority Report). Tom also decided to lose his mind on Oprah, belittle the medicinal use of drugs, infiltrate Dawson’s Creek cutie Katie Holmes with his alien seed and buy a sonogram machine to perform illegal physical examinations on his closely guarded wife and aforementioned alien seed. So, with the announcement of another Mission Impossible, I was a little worried. Would I be able to enjoy this movie even though I think Tom’s a complete looney? We’ll see.
The first good news occured when they announced JJ Abrams as the writer/director. I had recently watched the first three seasons of Alias on DVD and thought he was the perfect choice. Next, the cast was coming together nicely. Ving Rhames was returning, Keri Russell was going to be a fellow agent and Phillip Seymore Hoffman was going to be the bad guy. His recent Oscar win for Capote aside because I didn’t see it, I had loved him in State & Main and Twister. The cast was pretty strong, hopefully the story will be too.
Well, the script is tight. The movie was fantastic. The style and action reminded me very much of The Bourne Identity. Gritty, realistic, personal. Many of the action scenes are intense, too. Literally, in the first ten minutes, several people have died. Not as many as in, say, Lucky Number Slevin or Saving Private Ryan, but several people bite it that you weren’t expecting. The cool gadgets make a nice return, too. You see how the cool masks get created and more neat little toys. There is a phenomenal action piece where Cruise breaks into a building to retrieve the “Rabbit’s Foot”. Left me on the edge of my seat.
I will confess, there may be some parts where the going gets pretty confusing. The action is fast, and you pretty much just have to hold on and enjoy the ride. For me, though, this was easily as good, if not better, than the first one. See it with confidence.
While consulting in the early 2000s, I was surrounded by people reading The Da Vinci Code on the plane. I knew I had to read it, but I wanted to wait until it came out in paperback. Little did I know, at that time, that it would take YEARS. While in New York I stumbled across a discarded copy of Angels & Demons, the prelude to Da Vinci. Knowing it came first, I read it (and Da Vinci still hadn’t hit paperback). I loved it. The reading was fast paced and the subject matter was fascinating. This made me even more excited to start The Da
Vinci Code. Since, at this time, it still wasn’t out in paperback I borrowed a well-worn copy of it from my mother. I read it and loved it. The story pace was very similar and the subject matter, again, was fascinating. I still prefer Angels & Demons, though, to its more famous brother. I enjoyed these two so much I read Dan Brown’s other two books, Deception Point and Digital Fortress, which have nothing to do with Robert Langdon or the previous two books. They are also very fascinating, fast-paced and remarkable reads. As a matter of fact, of Brown’s four books, my favorite is Digital Fortress, followed closely by Angels & Demons.
I heard there was to be a movie of The Da Vinci Code after reading the book. I was excited until they announced Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon. I had trouble seeing him as the titular symbologist. I would have preferred seeing Mark Harmon or George Clooney (who was actually on the list of potential actors). I did celebrate the casting of Ian McKellen as Sir Lee Teabing and Paul Bettany as Silas. All that was left was to sit and wait.
My wife and I finally got to see the movie on the Sunday afternoon after it was released. The theater was still packed. The movie was very enjoyable. I think people who have read the book might be more inclined to enjoy it than those who haven’t. Even though they gloss over a lot of the historical details, it can still be pretty daunting to comprehend all that the characters are talking about if you haven’t read the book and been exposed to it. As for my wife and I, we really enjoyed it and, by the end, Tom Hanks had persuaded me that he was a good pick for Robert Langdon. I also enjoyed the very pretty French lady they cast as Sophie Noveau.
The movie practically flies through scenes and takes you on a breakneck, information laden chase through Europe for the truth behind the “Holy Grail”. There has been much controversy of the theories presented in the book and movie. Apparently people are taking what they read in this book as historical fact and thinking that the Catholic Church performed a worldwide coverup of the marriage between Jesus and Mary. If you go to Dan Brown’s website, there is a FAQ on The Da Vinci Code which explains that a lot of the ideas put forth by the book are just theories that have never been proven. The groups/sects of people and their rituals were true, but the way he uses them and their significance were all created by him for the novel. The ideas are interesting as just that, ideas in a historical fiction novel. Nothing more. The “controversy” has been good for the movie’s publicity though, no?
I know the movie will do well, so I hope they decide to move ahead with Angels & Demons next. That will be a sight to see.