Three years after the silly, unconvincing mess known as The Da Vinci Code, Ron Howard delivers a slightly less silly and unconvincing Dan Brown adaptation with Angels and Demons.
Tom Hanks is back (with a better haircut) as our sturdy hero, Harvard professor Robert Langdon. Langdon’s got it all. He’s smart to the point of ridiculousness, he’s fast and strong despite being in his mid-50s, and he’s rather smooth at wooing foreign babes with his intellect.
Angels and Demons may be better than its predecessor, but not without cutting it a lot of slack. Langdon is called on by the Vatican to help decipher a problem. The Pope has died and the world eagerly awaits the announcement of a new Catholic leader. Meanwhile, some baddie assassin psycho has kidnapped the four Cardinals who were frontrunners for the new job. Meanwhile, some very useful (it could power an entire city) and very dangerous (it could blow up in entire city) antimatter has been stolen from a lab. So, we learn the assassin works for The Illuminati, a vengeful sect of people who the Catholic church seriously screwed over centuries ago. The assassin says that he will kill one Cardinal every hour as an act of revenge. Oh and if they don’t find the antimatter before it runs out of battery (what?) then the Vatican will crumble. Get it? Me either.
After you wrap your head around this jumbled mess of a plot, the movie actually turns out to be pretty fun. Hanks brings his consistent likeability to Langdon. Ewan McGregor, as the Camerlengo in charge while they pick a new Pope, is okay, but never really convincing. Stellan Skarsgård, as the head of Vatican police, plays off his usual assholeishness, but I prefer him as a subtle asshole (Good Will Hunting) or a completely over-the-top asshole (the German director in Entourage). Then there’s Armin Mueller-Stahl, who may be the best actor around that you can never really figure out. Is his character good? Evil? Who knows. But as he’s showed us in Eastern Promises and Shine (for which he won an Oscar) almost no one can blend menace and sensitivity so seamlessly into a wrinkled face.
I don’t discuss the third act in my reviews too often, so I suppose a brief spoiler alert is appropriate here. Having said that, Angels and Demons is well paced, intriguing, and fun. That is until the last 20 minutes, which are completely ludicrous. There are helicopters, explosions, and wannabe plot twists that are just plain lazy. After giving the rest of the film so much slack, you’ll be hard-pressed to give a shit about the end. C-