Tom Hanks “returns” as Professor Langdon, the expert Symbologist who manages to crack ancient codes instantly while everyone from detectives to cardinals to molecular scientists don’t have a clue. Well, it’s a fun idea, if you don’t think about it too long.
It seems the Vatican has managed to inflame an ancient enmity, a secret society called the “Illuminati,” who believe that the powerful Church stands in the way of science, reason, and everything rational. Our puzzle-solving professor is just neutral enough to approach the whole problem without bias, unlike everyone else, who either has a personal agenda, a philosophical ax to grind, a pope to kill, a cardinal to kidnap, or a neutron bomb ticking down that could wipe out half of the city of Rome in an instant.
So we have the unusual juxtapositions of frantic chase scenes on clogged and crowded Italian streets, murder in the cathedral, cardinals in conclave in a CGI Sistine Chapel, secret passages inside the Vatican used by ecclesiastical assassins, pompous Church officials determined to hide their secrets by vacuum seal, which becomes a problem when the oxygen begins to leave the building. It’s all kind of breathless and ridiculous at the same time, and you really have to suspend disbelief watching the guy who played Obi Wan Kenobi, Ewan McGregor, play a celibate Pope’s apprentice. Wait a minute, maybe that isn’t such a logic leap, after all. Just enjoy “Angels And Demons” for the icon and incense yarn that it is — I did — and don’t try to push the logic too far.
RONALD P. SALFEN is pastor of Grace Church in Greenville, Texas.