The second film starring Tom Hanks as Professor Robert Langdon and far superior to the first, ANGELS AND DEMONS is a fascinating and exciting thriller.
After the events of "The DaVinci Code", Langdon is surprised to be asked by the Vatican police to assist in tracking down some VERY dangerous folks in possession of a lethal new power that could change the world.
Just as in the superior Dan Brown novel, the film takes us on a fast and furious path of discovery as Langdon solves one code and clue after another in trail of the bad guys.
With a new Pope about to be appointed and several of the candidates kidnapped by the mysterious Illuminati, Langdon must track them down or a Cardinal will be killed every hour.
Hanks is excellent throughout, conveying a ton of information and serving up the best scientific-teacher/action hero blend since Indiana Jones.
But this is far more serious than any of Indy's adventures. There is a nasty new discovery capable of cleansing the Earth, along with intrigue inside and outside of the church that keeps us guessing whose side anyone is on for most of the film.
In addition to that, the vial they are chasing to get back contains a mystery that challenges the foundation of the church, leading to some interesting discussions on science vs faith.
Hanks is ably assisted by scientist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), Father McKenna (Ewan McGregor) and Cardinal Strauss (Armin Mueller-Stahl).
One standout is Inspector Olivetti, played by the terrific Pierfrancesco Favino (World War Z, RUSH). He holds the screen anytime he's on it and drives the story forward with style.
Director Ron Howard must have heard all the criticism on "DaVinci" because this film moves much more quickly and with more clarity.
At 146 minutes long, it doesn't shortchange Brown's thrilling book, which was one of the best thrillers I ever read.
Howard and team spent $150 million to bring the film to the screen and it wears the budget well, with a first class production led by a first class leading actor. Hanks has rarely been more likeable. Like Cary Grant in "North by Northwest", he's propelled through the adventure against time & odds, with the viewer along for the very enjoyable ride.
The sound design is excellent (fire that bass up!) and the music score by Hans Zimmer is nearly non-stop, like some operatic adventure co-pilot to the countdown.
I liked this even better on second viewing now versus when I originally saw it in the theatre in 2009.
ANGELS AND DEMONS gets an A.
It will be followed in October 2016 by the third Langdon/Hanks/Howard film adaption, this time of Dan Brown's superior INFERNO.
It's just too bad they haven't filmed the second-best book of the Langdon series, "The Lost Symbol".
Fingers crossed and codex's scrambled.....