As humans, we love a good treasure hunt, don’t we? The problem is two-fold: one, we can’t take a time out from life to go run around the globe; two, we no longer know what a globe is.

Like everything else, the answer to this modern malaise is to live vicariously through film. That’s what the Indiana Jones films were all about: action-packed treasure hunts. I reversed engineered the action part of that equation some time ago and made The Mummy. But with The Da Vinci Code, I turned my back on action completely and focused only on the treasure hunt. ONLY on the treasure hunt.

Nicolas Cage plays Dr. Robert Langdon, a specialist in the field of American Symbolism. I guess before anything else I should address Nicolas Cage’s hair; it’s a bit more “flowy” than usual, and we really got made fun of for it. Look, that hair-do was just our way of telling you, “This guy’s just an academic. In no way is he supposed to be a cop. Therefore, do not expect him to ever be brave or awesome.” Sadly, this seems to have been only Chapter One in The Long, Sad Tale of Nicolas Cage’s Crazy Film-Hair (Penguin). I think when we told him “flowy” he misheard “under forty”, and with every passing film, his poor head looks more and more like the McDonald’s Arches.

Langdon may teach at Harvard during the day, but at night he’s a total wackjob for this historical, probably apocryphal, treasure hidden by our country’s Founding Fathers. Accrued clues pass from father to son every generation (skipping the Jon Voight generation) and now it’s Nick Cage’s motherfucking turn, Motherfucker!

As the film begins, Langdon is about to resolve a huge clue by breaking into the Vatican and identifying a random Pope’s lost tomb which supposedly contains a map. He is funded on this trip by Sir Leigh Teabag (Ian McKellen), a rich cripple dude who wants the treasure…even if it costs History itself. He proves this by blowing up the 15,000 year old church once Langdon finds the hidden map and hands it over at gunpoint. Luckily, Langdon has a “nearly” “eidetic” “memory” so he doesn’t need the map once he’s seen it, even if he’s only seen it rolled up like a poster. He knows now the one place to find his next clue: the Declaration of Independence.

This is a highly patriotic film. Therefore, whenever Langdon stops to fill us in on clues, he also gives us brief History lessons. Some of these lessons are accompanied by black & white flashbacks. As a result, we don’t just hear about the clue on the Declaration of Independence, we also get to learn about what the document stands for and the brave men who wrote it, men like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, Joan of Arc, William Shakespeare, and of course, Leonardo Da Vinci himself.

Langdon and his smartass comic relief buddy have to race Sir Teabag from the Vatican (New York) all the way across the country to Washington DC. This is made even more difficult when Sir Teabag frames them for a murder he saw while watching a more exciting movie on television. And it’s made even MORE difficult thanks to Langdon’s severe claustrophobia, which keeps him out of Planes, Trains, & Automobiles. He’s a Segway only kind of badass.

Despite his familial obsession with the Da Vinci Treasure, Langdon’s true priority is stealing the Declaration simply to save it from Sir Teabag, who will most certainly blow it up after getting his clue. He’s British.

To do this, Langdon must woo the girl from Amelie because she’s in charge of the Declaration of Independence’s daily cleaning — the only time the document is vulnerable to swaggered theft. She doesn’t actually clean it, though. A team if highly trained scientists do that. She just sits in an office and watches them do it on a television. It’s a very important job and she totally had to get a MA for it. People who wash elephants don’t even need a GED.

Langdon sub-Mission Impossibles his way through enough laser rooms to get his hands on the Declaration. Sir Teabag shows up just in time to fire a few bullets and look pissed. But Cage isn’t out of the woods yet. Thanks to Teabag’s villain bullshit, all kinds of alarms are going off. To cover his escape he must kidnap Amelie. She fights as much as any woman being kidnapped by Nick Cage can expect to fight. In other words, “Congratulations, Baby. It’s party time.”

Now that the map is safe, Langdon figures he might as well look at it for the next clue. “I need to find a library now!” he barks. “And brew some tea, ASAP! And get me a pipe, too. STAT! And where the FUCK is my tweed jacket!”

Once at the library, Langdon examines the Declaration and discovers hidden writing on the back side, which only fire can bring forth. The note reads:

Don’t fall asleep during Priory of Sion parties, man. Trust the Vinci.
Signed,
Leonardo

Langdon starts freaking out, but no one knows why, so he has to tell his them (us) all about the Priory of Sion.

The whole idea is that Jesus was less a deity, like Gandhi and more a regular fella, like Adam Corolla. Before he was killed he totally knocked up his favorite prostitute. This child and every child continuing the Jesus bloodline, is protected by the Priory of Sion, a secret society overflowing with resources and older than America itself. Until this moment, Langdon never actually knew what the treasure he chased actually held.  But now he knows that he’s spent his entire life looking for the tomb of Mary Magdalene, a totally dead poor person. Disappointed, he gives up and goes home.

Or he would, except Sir Teabag shows up with a bigger gun. He demands that Langdon show him where the treasure is at. Langdon tries to tell him the new News, but Sir Teabag thinks it’s just a trick and shoots Langdon’s smart-ass sidekick guy in the face. Hesitantly, Langdon leads the way back across the country  from Washington DC to Pennsylvania.

They trek to the Liberty Bell which, historically, cracked the exact moment of Jesus’ death. Somewhere deep beneath it lay Mary Magdalene’s tomb. To find out where, they all have to stand at a certain spot at a certain time of the day and look in a certain direction to see a certain hidden brick pointed out by a sundial. Behind the brick they find a key. The key goes into a door which leads to a wood-rotted elevator system apparently built by retarded pirates.

Once they get to the bottom floor some crazy shit happens. Sir Teabag finally realizes that they’ve been chasing a bunch of dusty bones. He plans to shoot everyone out of pure irritation. But then, the bones light up and shake a bunch. A rainbow leads from them to Amelie. It turns out that SHE’S A DESCENDANT OF JESUS CHRIST! Her entire body is turned into a pile of gold for the guys to fight over. Sir Teabag loses this fight because he’s a cripple. Er… I mean a bad guy.

Langdon takes his lady-sized pile of gold and spends it on a new college where they finally let him give lectures while standing in front of gigantic swastikas. Everybody wins except everyone but him.

(three stars)


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