Thursday, September 17, 2009

Briefly: Angels & Demons (2009)

Catholic groups spoke out against Angels & Demons just as they did in 2006 for director Ron Howard's previous Dan Brown adaptation, The Da Vinci Code, but the film is no more offensive to organized religion in general and the Catholic church in particular than it is to particle physics, logic, or good haircare. This time out, peculiarly coiffed symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is in Rome, searching for some kidnapped Cardinals and a stolen canister of antimatter which, conveniently for the plot and inconveniently for the populace of Vatican City, will explode when its battery powered containment field runs out of juice at exactly (EXACTLY!) midnight. There's something interesting about a Hollywood blockbuster anchored by a character who solves problems with his brain instead of his fists. But this isn't really that film: Angels & Demons is less about true puzzle solving than about a guy who won't shut up about art history caught in the middle of a variety of firefights and foot chases. Hanks is miscast too. He's at his best playing the witty, intrinsically decent everyman; think Forrest Gump, think Saving Private Ryan, think Big, etc. A humorless know-it-all like Langdon takes advantage of exactly none of his gifts as an actor. This isn't the worst movie of the summer — Howard's faithful to Brown's famously breathless pacing, plus the priest who also happens to be an experienced (EXPERIENCED!) helicopter pilot is good for a chuckle — but it's pretty forgettable. Hanks should divorce himself from this franchise (and his hairdresser) as soon as possible.



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