I felt vaguely unsatisfied after watching the Da Vinci Code. I have no such complaints about Angels and Demons. It was a solid 138 minutes of unflagging action, with strong performances and really good camerawork and editing.
I read the book long ago and, must confess, found it much better than its better-known sibling, The Da Vinci Code. What is required, like it is when viewing any work of fiction, is a wilful suspension of disbelief, and this work asks for oodles of suspension. The now famous professor, Robert Langdon, played again by Tom Hanks, is back, and this time is asked to take on an old enemy of the Roman Catholic Church, the Illuminati. The movie stays mostly faithful to the book, and takes us on a chase through the Vatican at the time of a Papal death and the following Conclave. As expected, and rather like Indiana Jones, the good professor saves the day.
In the course of his pursuit of the centuries-old bad guys, he takes on the gorgeous physicist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) as his companion for the adventure, is helped by Inspector Olivetti (Pierfracesco Favino) of the Vatican Police, hindered by Commander Richter (Stellan Skarsgard) of the Vatican Swiss Guard, counselled, patronised and preached to by the late Pope’s chamberlain, Camerlengo Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor in a bread-and-butter portrayal). Taking all this in his stride, he follows clues laid out centuries ago by the Illuminati. While constantly pointing out the misdeeds of the Roman Catholic Church down the ages, he also is following the clues of the Illuminati, who seem to be out to bring down their oldest foe in a cataclysm involving, of all things, antimatter!
The movie is grand in scope and execution, and features near-flawless performances from its main players. While no performance stands out, the movie succeeds as a whole. This is in no small part due to the editing, which ensures that the pace never slackens. The music, scored by Hans Zimmer, is a winner all the way, and completes the movie-watching experience.
I give it four on five, and definitely recommend it.