Ron Howard's "The Da Vinci Code" has not aged very well; even franchise star and all-around nice guy Tom Hanks hasn't had many nice things to say about it over the years. However, every movie series has its fandom, and "The Da Vinci Code" is no different. The follows Robert Langdon, a professor of religious symbology, who is a suspect in the murder of a Louvre curator and ends up searching for the Holy Grail alongside police cryptographer Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou). Based on Dan Brown's best-selling book, "The Da Vinci Code" grossed $760 million worldwide on a $125 million dollar budget, which apparently justified the existence of two less successful sequels, "Angels & Demons" and "Inferno." We may not have the fondest memory of those films, but at least it seems like Hanks had fun on set filming the religious mystery thriller.
Much of "The Da Vinci Code" revolves around the Louvre, the famed Paris art museum which is a treasure trove of world-famous masterpieces, including the Mona Lisa. The story includes much of those artworks as pieces of a convoluted puzzle surrounding the Holy Grail and Jesus Christ's relationship with Mary Magdalene (which, as you can imagine, upset a lot of people). Being able to shoot in the Louvre not only upped "The Da Vinci Code's" production value, it also allowed the cast and crew to do something that never happens there. According to Hanks, the Louvre became the coincidental location for a special life celebration.
'They Brought Me A Birthday Cake'
In an interview with The New York Times, "The Da Vinci Code" star Tom Hanks questioned the cynicism of a "cash-grab" project being able to shoot in a historical location. To prove his point, Hanks revealed that he celebrated his birthday at the Louvre:
"Let me tell you something else about 'The Da Vinci Code.' It was my 40th-something birthday. We were shooting in the Louvre at night. I changed my pants in front of the Mona Lisa! They brought me a birthday cake in the Grand Salon! Who gets to have that experience? Any cynicism there? Hell no!"
Although I'm sure it was a unique experience, treating the Louvre like a Chili's is a pretty bleak and shockingly appropriate allegory for "The Da Vinci Code." The Ron Howard-directed film had the potential to tell a subversive, twisty story about the Holy Grail and Jesus Christ, but used it to make a generic thriller without the thrills. Of course, it's still a project that a lot of people worked hard on. However, it's hard to not see the obvious jokes — especially since Hanks seems keen on making them himself.
With all of that being said, "The Da Vinci Code" is arguably the best installment of the trilogy, which remains fairly consistent from start to finish. The Louvre is a major part of the mystery in the first film and looks great on screen, if that is any consolation for the museum aficionados out there.
Read this next: Ranking Every Ron Howard Feature Film From Worst To Best
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