Ray prays for Tom Hanks to make something better than ANGELS & DEMONS!
The Da Vinci Code was a two hour endurance test of lectures and conspiracy theories centered around the origin of Jesus. The film was, in a word, boring, but it is a testament to its subject that the film managed to be watchable at all ... despite the terrible haircut on star Tom Hanks. Now Hanks reunites with director Ron Howard to bring Dan Brown's other conspiracy-laden opus Angels & Demons to the screen. However, the newest plot is less intriguing, involving the election of a new Pope. Fortunately the Illuminati arrive to spice things up. Slightly. Hanks plays Robert Langdon, a "symbologist" who also specializes in being the most intelligent man in history. Like the first film, Langdon can walk into any room or conversation and be instantly able to cough up random dates and events at will without even struggling. The downside of this trait is that it reduces Langdon to a walking Wikipedia, rather than a flesh and blood character for whom we can root. In this case, he is assisted by the lovely Ayelet Zurer as an Italian scientist who has managed to create antimatter just in time to play a part in the devious scheme of the Illuminati. They plan to use this newly-created and poorly-understood substance to blow up the Vatican. Sounds like a great idea, actually. But that might ruin the tension of the trumped-up plotline, which attempts to up the excitement level using the countdown device. Howard intends for our pulses to race as Langdon frantically scours Rome for the antimatter bomb. Yawn. The film shuttles along weightlessly from place to place without any depth or, even worse, a sense of time. I did not know that you could take a helicopter flight across Rome in the span of three or four minutes, but now I do. This kind of absence of realistic time and motion plagues Howard's movie, as he attempts to convince us that our heroes are capable of being almost everywhere at will. Speaking of being everywhere at will, our ACME villains the Illuminati - who apparently number two by my counting - manage to, like most action film villains, anticipate every move of everyone on Earth at any single moment. The Illuminati make terrific villains if you go by their mythology. Unfortunately this film turns them into a very small, unbelievably intelligent group of petty criminals. With a 400 year old grudge. Whatever. But any goodwill the movie had built during its running time is thrown completely out the window of that Roman helicopter I mentioned earlier (literally) during the finale, one of the most startlingly stupid things I've seen in a theater this year (topping even Knowing which I reviewed 22.03.09 for shock value). This is, in my mind, on par with the infamous refrigerator sequence from last year's Indiana Jones (reviewed 22.05.08) abortion. I laughed out loud to the point of wanting to piss my pants to convince myself I was awake. Ultimately, there is no point to the production of this film other than to make a lot of money. At least the previous film had meditations on the birth and life of Christ; this is just a silly potboiler with lots of phony plot constructions. I can't imagine anyone really cares about any of this; Even actual conspiracy theorists would be bored by the code this time around. Hanks is too good of an actor to be plodding around in a thankless role like this. Unlike the Nicolas Cage character from the National Treasure films, Hanks' Langdon has almost no personality traits or drive aside from spitting out boring archaeological factoids. Anything projected off of Hanks in this film comes from Hanks' own personal warmth and charisma, although those features are missing through much of the film. Perhaps he was just as bored as the rest of us. Through his eyes you can almost hear him saying: what am I doing here, and why should anyone give a fuck about any of this?? Indeed. This film is utterly pointless and not particularly fun until the ludicrously awful final five minutes. If you're a fan of staring open-mouthed at a screen while your brain slowly dies, then this is the film for you. My highest recommendation for anyone is that this film contains moving images that might manage to distract them. Other than that, you might be best to skip it, go to church, and pray for Hanks to return to life.