But mostly, we ought to reject this plodding, tedious bit of tepid religious conspiracy-mongering because, like the book is purported to be, it is heinously bad. Aside from Audrey Tautou and her cute accent, there is absolutely nothing to like about the movie. It plays like a theological CSI—complete with leaden, expository dialog, dumb puzzles, and even the same grainy flashbacks—except with none of that show’s glitzy, shallow thrills. The editing is clumsy, slowing both action and dialog down to a sleepy crawl. The acting is languid, lacking any urgency or passion. The cinematography is surprisingly poor; director Ron Howard clearly intended things to look moody, but many scenes appear merely dim. The story is convoluted and careless, never able to figure out whether it wants to be a history lesson, an action yarn, or a paranoid thriller. Far too much time is wasted on uninvolving puzzles that seem oddly disconnected from the main action.

Worst of all, it doesn’t know when to end. Akiva Goldsman’s script (it’s from the same megagenius who gave us Batman and Robin and Lost in Space—how’s that for a resume?) ties up the major threat and signals that all is resolved—and then continues to plod along for another tiring half an hour. Like Return of the King, it goes on to give us numerous false endings. Unlike Return of the King, it hasn’t earned any of them. At the theater I was in, more than a dozen people walked out early. ~Peter Suderman