Angels and Demons sees the return of Tom Hanks as symbologist, Robert Langdon, and Ron Howard distorting another Dan Brown novel. In their first effort, The Da Vinci Code, they turned Dan Brown’s thrilling mystery into one of the most boring two and a half hours of my life. More concerned with retelling the complex narrative, they completely botched recreating the thrilling mystery, which made the book compelling. Nevertheless, Brown fans and those intrigued by the controversial depiction of the Catholic Church, showed up in droves for a great disappointment. Angels and Demons does not come with nearly the same amount of hype and controversy, but what it lacks in buzz, it makes up for with intense action.
The film wastes no time with introductions and launches right into the heart of the action. We witness the first successful creation of anti-matter at a CERN laboratory in Geneva. For non-physicists, anti-matter is the ying to matter’s yang and if they were to meet the result would be an incredible explosion of energy. A canister of anti-matter is allegedly stolen by a secret society, known as the Illuminati and is then used as a time bomb that threatens to destroy the Vatican. This occurs during the election of a new Pope and the four leading candidates, the preferiti, are kidnapped by the Illuminati. Robert Langdon, an expert on the Illuminati, is brought in to track down the group, save the preferiti and the Vatican all before it is too late.
Robert Langdon attempts to do for symbology what Indiana Jones did for archaeology, but does so with mixed results. The book’s mystery and suspense is wrapped up in Langdon’s ability to solve these puzzles, left for him centuries ago by history’s most influential figures. However in the film, the mystery never takes long to solve and we are quickly sped through the process, leaving us wanting more. What brings the film to life is the eminent doom presented at the film’s opening. The film follows the old Hitchcock philosophy that it is better to let the audience know there is a bomb in the room and watch in suspense, than to keep them in the dark and let the explosion give them a brief shock. Amidst this suspenseful mystery, the film keeps a quick action packed pace that refuses to let up until the end. The film fails to add anything new to its source material, but definitely provides for some summertime movie fun.