Angels and Demons is the sequel to the hit film of a couple of years ago, the Da Vinci Code, also from a book by Dan Brown. Like the previous film Angels and Demons stars Tom Hanks as the Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon.
Superficially Angels and Demons has some of the same plot elements as The Da Vinci Code. Tom Hank’s Robert Langdon has to follow a set of clues involving historical symbols in order to solve a mystery.
This time, though, the mystery is not as earthshakingly historical as whether Jesus did or not marry and have a child. The mystery Tom Hanks’ Robert Langdon has to solve could have been a plot for the TV series 24, except that Langdon is not obliged to shoot anyone in the knee caps and Chloe Obrien is not a geeky computer wiz, but a very attractive Italian scientist named Vittoria Vetra, played by Ayelet Zurer.
The mystery that needs to be solved is caused by the reemergence in the modern world of a secret scientific society called the Illuminate, which has a score to settle with the Roman Catholic Church going back centuries. To that end, the Illuminate has taken the occasion of the conclave of cardinals to choose a new pope to kidnap the four likely candidates and threaten to kill each of them one after the other. The Illuminate have also secreted a vial filled with antimatter somewhere in Vatican City which will destroy Vatican City and much of Rome besides.
The Catholic Church remembers the last time it had dealings with Robert Langdon, which resulted in the upending of the history of early Christianity. However, Robert Langdon seems to be the one man who can save the Vatican, with all of its art treasures, from annihilation.
Tom Hanks does a great job, running and driving about Rome, mostly late at night, at breakneck speeds to solve the mystery before the center of Rome becomes a small star. Hanks even does a little running and jumping action hero style and manages to make it look realistic, as in this is a Harvard professor firing a gun or wrestling with someone in a Rome fountain and not a super action hero.
Ewen McGregor does a great job as Camerlengo Patrick McKenna, the chief advisor to the late Pope and the titular head of the Church until the new pope is chosen. There’re are a lot of church politics going on behind all of the running and jumping and trying to find the kidnapped Cardinals, what with the vicarage of Christ at stake. There is also a little time from some rumination about the relationship between religion and science and where does one end and the other begin.
For those of whom it is a concern, Angels and Demons pretty much suggests that the Roman Catholic Church, for all of its flaws and history, is an institution worth saving from the anti matter bomb. There are no strange revelations in this film, except for the obvious that man is flawed, no matter what God he worships.
Sources: Angels and Demons, IMDB
The Da Vinci Code: A Controversial Film of Mystery and Faith, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, June 1st, 2006