Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard, Pierfrancesco Favino, Armin Mueller-Stahl
Remember The Da Vinci Code? That very controversial book made into a film about some distorted truths about Christ? The film wasn't all great, but it generated enough buzz to earn a healthy profit for itself. So Ron Howard decides to make another film based on Dan Brown's work.
Although Angels & Demons is a prequel book to The Da Vinci Code, the film adaptation is made a sequel of the Da Vinci film. Again the story revolves around Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) who has to use his symbology knowledge to solve a puzzle.
The story begins with the death of The Pope. As the cardinals in The Vatican mourn and prepare the conclave to select a new Pope, a dangerous canister of anti-matter energy is stolen from a research facility in Switzerland. Then the preferiti, the four favoured cardinals to be in the running to become The Pope are abducted. A message is left behind, supposedly by The Illuminati, a group of science believers thought to be destroyed by the Catholic church, which says that they will kill the cardinals, one every hour between 8 p.m. and midnight on the day of the conclave, then blow up Vatican City using the canister.
The Vatican sends for Langdon to help decipher clues left behind and find the missing cardinals and retrieve the canister before it's too late. Langdon is aided by Dr Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), the scientist who researched the anti-matter being used by The Illuminati. Navigating their way through the tight security and bureaucracy at The Vatican isn't easy though, especially when Commander Richter (Stellan Skarsgard), head of the Swiss Guard that protects the church, doesn't like Langdon's presence. Thankfully the duo are aided by Camerlengo Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor) who was close to the former Pope. Can Langdon and Vittoria save everyone in time?
What makes this film differ from The Da Vinci Code is the pace and style. In Da Vinci, it's all about clues and mysteries, but in Angels, it shifts to a higher gear, where the leads race against time to solve a puzzle and save lives. Howard successfully directs a film filled with some nice action sequences that will keep you on edge while fascinating you with interesting knowledge on places, landmarks and statues in Vatican City. All this running, chasing and watching things getting destroyed leaves almost no room for character development, but since we're in a film where time is of the essence, it's understandable.
Hanks and Zurer work well together to give a convincing partnership on screen. Their combined knowledge and courage to save lives shows up convincingly indeed. McGregor and Skarsgard lend some needed support, although the former doesn't have much to do until the film gets into the third act.
However, at the end of the day, this film is about figuring out who the culprit is. And it was really easy for me. I guessed it early on when the film began, and confirmed it right as the final fifteen minutes rolled in. Predictable? Maybe. But I'll say this: it is more entertaining than The Da Vinci Code, and surely qualifies as a summer blockbuster.
Verdict: It won't beat Star Trek, but it is fun to watch. (4/5)