The perspiration spraying from the screen during The Da Vinci Code is not from the hero and heroine outrunning forces set on framing them for multiple murders. It's from director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman sweating buckets of unholy water as they try to stay on top of novelist Dan Brown's heavy, exposition-riddled plot. Within minutes it throws them off the saddle. Their movie isn't exciting, just hectic. The Da Vinci Code lacks suspense, momentum and visual panache.
This international chase melodrama, which yesterday had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and tomorrow opens nationally, has neither the humor, thrills and adult sexuality of North By Northwest nor the humor, thrills and grade-school sexuality of National Treasure. And that's ironic only because Brown has won headlines for laying out a vision of early Christians who embraced men and women equally and performed sacred rites of sexual union before ruthless fourth-century Catholics imposed patriarchy and misogyny and certified Jesus Christ's divinity.