Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Angels & Demons


This one starts out with a lot of strikes against it, and only one interesting element: Tom Hanks. He’s usually worth seeing. As for the strikes …
Before the story even begins, the Pope has been assassinated and four Cardinals have been abducted. The Cardinals will be killed, one every hour, beginning at 8 PM. At midnight Vatican City and much of Rome will be destroyed by an antimatter bomb. (Don’t ask, it’s way too silly to explain.) So right off, I have trouble caring. The Pope, to me, is just another stupid guy in a silly hat, like the stupid orthodox Jews I see walking around the Fairfax District every Saturday. I had no use for the Polish Pope, and I have even less use for the new, Nazi Pope. As for the College of Cardinals, they’re just a bunch of guys in red pajamas. I don’t really care if any of them are killed. In fact, recent experience has shown us that there are those among the College who really ought to be blown to bits by an antimatter bomb. So any real tension was lacking, but that’s just me. You might care.
The book this movie was based on was written before the super-ultra-mega-colossal bestseller The Da Vinci Code, but here it’s rewritten such that the events of that book took place before this one. A few years back I broke down and read TDVC, when I realized I was the last literate person on the planet that had not done so. I thought the puzzles were pretty ingenious. As for the rest of the book—plot, characters, etc.—I thought it was a pretty good candidate for third-stupidest book ever written. (#1 and #2, in no particular order: The Bible and the Koran.) Lest you think I’m getting too snarky here, let me assure you that if I could expect to sell 60 million copies, as Dan Brown has, I would cheerfully pen the fourth stupidest book ever written. But I don’t know how.
The film of TDVC was not much better; in fact, I guess it was worse, in that the sheer impossibility of all this happening in about 24 hours was more starkly evident in a two-hour movie, and Tom Hanks’ propensity to arrive at a scene and instantly stumble across the one tiny clue that would lead him to the next puzzle was even harder to swallow. Nobody is that good.
Well, in this one he’s even better. And it takes place in less time, and is even less plausible. He gets there, finds the dead cardinal, finds an angel statue pointing the way, solves the clue, and races off to find the next dead cardinal. All this hanky-panky has been perpetrated by an ancient order called the Illuminati, who were and are scientists who have an axe to grind against the One Holy Infallible Catholic and Apostolic Church. These dudes carry a grudge for 400 years or so before going after their revenge …
… only it’s not them. A rogue priest has set this all up, which afforded me a little bit of solace, as I couldn’t see real scientists giving a shit about any of this, while the Church has committed atrocities through the ages that make an antimatter bomb detonated over Rome seem penny-ante. But by this time the story had come apart entirely, and I didn’t really care about anything.