Hollywood Product - The Da Vinci Code

In theaters

Genre: Treasure-hunt thriller

The Pitch: In the adaptation of Dan Brown's oft-imitated best seller, symbolism professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and Parisian cop Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) become fugitives trying to unravel a conspiracy that reaches back to the Last Supper.

Body Count: Two early murders feature connections to the Bible and Leonardo da Vinci's artwork, but afterward it's just boring old shootings and poisonings. Overly slick flashbacks imply scores of killings, sort of like blood-drenched History Channel promos.

Money Shot: Sir Leigh Teabing (a jolly Ian McKellan) uses da Vinci's "Last Supper" to recount the inside story of Mary Magdalene. Robert and Sophie have a couple of good escapes from Clouseau-like cops in Paris and London, but the action scenes seldom raise pulses.

Flesh Factor: The first victim poses nude like da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man," although an overhead light somehow makes his, uh, junk disappear. Several times monkish hit man Silas (Paul Bettany) disrobes to flagellate himself.

Fashion Statement: Called "Harrison Ford in Harris Tweed" in the book, Hanks' Robert Langdon instead affects kind of a Eurotrash look with black suit, black shirt and long, lank hair.

Best line: "We are not cafeteria Catholics," remarks Alfred Molina's evil, conniving bishop. Given how he employs Silas as his personal hit man, I should think not.

Worst line: "This can't be this," Robert puzzles over one of the story's innumerable clues like a crabby Sherlock Holmes. Hanks only warms up when playing Robert's claustrophobia — a trait that's not even in the book.

Inside joke: Brown named "Leigh Teabing" after the two authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, one of the novel's sources. Leigh is the last name of co-author Richard Leigh, and Teabing is an anagram of Michael Baigent's last name. After Code'' became practically the biggest book since the Bible, they sued him for plagiarism and lost.
Better Than The Book?: No — not that the book's so great, either. But Brown's novel uses a secondhand Robert Ludlum plot to link some juicy, gossipy bits of religious and art history. The movie condenses the fun exposition and tries to beef up characters who were pretty thin on the page.

The Bottom Line: What should be an obsessive, paranoid thriller like JFK becomes in Howard's hands a sluggish march with little passion for its religious content. Still, The Da Vinci Code should boost tourism at the Louvre and the rest of Paris, perhaps making up for all those "Freedom Fries" jokes from the past few years. 2 stars''