Who's In It: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard, Armin Mueller-Stahl
The Basics: The Illuminati--a secret society of anti-religious freethinkers--is out to destroy the Catholic Church. So they steal some anti-matter capable of blowing up most of Rome, kidnap some cardinals on the eve of the selection of a new Pope and, luckily for Tom Hanks, leave TONS OF CLUES like a bread crumb trail of puzzle pieces. It's kind of like how when you do something bad you kind of want to get caught because that humiliation is how you fully enjoy the pleasure of your misdeed. Or something like that.
What's The Deal: Having grown up watching Scooby-Doo and then Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I'm a big fan of detectives who manage to use their superior knowledge and intuition about seemingly random bits of information to one-up everyone around them, pulling totally correct ideas out of thin air and then standing there smugly while people nearby volunteer their own bits of information that connect all the dots. Then, finally, the great intellect of the bunch wraps it all up and leads the chase toward the next bit of information on the scavenger hunt. Standing in for Scooby is Hanks, annoying every Church official whose path he crosses with his exhaustive scholarly approach and lead-foot plodding through the mystery to a point past the end, even after everyone else thinks the crime's been solved. In other words, TWIST!
About That Twist: I was sort of surprised by it, to be honest. I mean, you pick out who you think the bad guys are after all the cast members are introduced and you might even have it narrowed down to a few prime suspects. But this one sort of pulls the rug out from under you with a well-played bit of plot trickery. Oh, and the Church gets off pretty easily.
Really Stupid Stuff From The DaVinci Code I Found Myself Missing: I hated that first film. I thought it was dull and ponderous and self-important. But even though this one is smarter and more like a not-horrible episode of CSI: Vatican, I realize now that I really liked Ian McKellen's histrionic bad guy, Audrey Tautou driving a tiny car backwards like a little gamine Bullitt and Paul Bettany's masochist leg-gouging antics. This one's not nearly as bonkers, none of them are in it, and so that's just kind of a letdown.
The Most Important Thing Of All: Hanks' weird mullet-adjacent hair is long gone. We can all breathe a sigh of relief over that one.