Tom Hanks, Ayelet Zurer, Thure Lindhardt and Ewan McGregor
Angels and Demons is not the film that The Da Vinci Code was. Brown works both stories in similar manners. Harvard symbologist, Langdon races around a European locale with an attractive brunette, deciphering ancient symbols and vague directions to solve an old mystery.
The Pope has just died and an a long forgotten enemy of the Catholic church known as the Illuminati has just reemerged. The are a secret organization that has long been at odds with the church as it puts science ahead of faith in God. They have stolen and planted bomb, somewhere in Rome. Langdon, along with a beautiful, Italian scientist, Vittoria, embarks on a hunt through crypts, catacombs, churches and the Vatican archives to find it. With an assassin busy dispatching Cardinals in very grotesque manners, and a traitor behind the papal walls, Langdon has his hands full in a movie that, for the most part takes place in a four hour span.
Whereas The Da Vinci Code sparked controversy as it questioned Jesus’s divinity, Angels and Demons merely points out that the Vatican has a history of slowing down science as they fear it contradicts their belief. Stem Cell research is briefly mentioned.
Hanks is in fine form playing a brainy, less action packed, Indiana Jones. He finds ridiculously confusing clues and easily deciphers them. He finds a clue, some one dies, some one yells at some one else and then he finds another clue only to have some one else die and another person raise their voice.
The mysteries of old Rome are fascinating, but Langdon is just not that interesting enough of a character. Anyone from the Hardy Boys to Miss Marple could have done what he did, and the movie would have been no less entertaining. People went to see the Indiana Jones movies because of Indiana Jones. Brown and Howard may be able to put Langdon in interesting mysteries, but they are unable to give Langdon enough personality. When asked if he believes in God, he gives some bullshit on the fence answer. Moderates are the most boring people in the world.
Fortunately, Langdon is played by Tom Hanks, which makes him instantly likable.
How is Langdon saying that he doesn't believe in god an on-the-fence, bullshit answer? Because that is indeed the answer he gives when asked that question. He just puts it a little more diplomatically, but he is unequivocal in his negative response.
I do agree with you Eric about the lack of characterization of Langdon. He's very smart and knows a great deal of history, but except for that we know nothing else about him and he has practically no character traits apart from knowing it all. If he were played by anyone but the likable Tom Hanks he might even come off as smug. At least he has a better haircut and Hanks looks like he is in a little bit better shape this time around. I felt that by the end of the movie though, that I knew much more about Ewan McGregor's character than I ever did about Langdon.
Despite that, I still found this to be a very entertaining, fast-paced summer movie. The action is good and tense in parts and the mysteries move along fast enough that you overlook the ability for Langdon to know everything that he does just in the nick of time. Rome and Vatican City are also well showcased as Langdon races from place to place.
I do have to say that the mystery itself wasn't too hard to figure out and I saw most of the ending coming long before it happened. It didn't harm my enjoyment, but I thought it was pretty straight forward.
Sure this is just a lightweight, fast-paced, pop corn movie, but isn't that what summer movies are supposed to be? So it's not a classic, but it's well worth the price of admission.
Tom Hanks aging well in this decent mystery thriller.
I agree. The pacing is fast enough that you can overlook how predictable the ending is. I knew who the bad guy was almost from the moment he appeared on screen. And some of the plot devices are a bit silly. I mean c’mon, antimatter? Scott you are right that Ewan McGregor’s priest is more fleshed out than Hanks’ professor. As for Langdon’s response to the question of whether or not he believes in God. He does answer no but he also qualifies it by saying that, “Faith hasn’t found him yet.” So I have to side with Eric. It is somewhat of a bullshit response. I enjoyed the way Rome, specifically Vatican City, is used as a character. It made me want to visit the Eternal City. Ron Howard’s direction is decent although there is nothing about the movie that made me think any other competent director could not have done just as well. All in all a decent, but by no means great, mystery/thriller.
Photos © Copyright Columbia Pictures (2009)