Angels and Demons

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Review byMatthew Turner13/05/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 146 mins

Enjoyable thriller, thanks to a strong cast, a decent plot, some good set-pieces and some surprisingly pacey direction from Ron Howard.

What's it all about?
Directed by Ron Howard and based on the book by Dan Brown (a prequel in book form, but a sequel here), Angels and Demons sees Tom Hanks reprising his role as symbologist Robert Langdon (this time with a more sensible haircut), who is summoned to Rome when the Vatican uncovers a deadly plot by centuries-old underground organisation the Illuminati. The plot involves the kidnapping of the preferiti (the Cardinals most likely to be elected Pope) and the use of an anti-matter time bomb (don't ask) to destroy Vatican City, so Langdon teams up with beautiful Italian scientist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) and together they race around Rome, solving a trail of clues that will lead them through the 400-year-old Path of Illumination in time to stop the bomb from exploding.

The Good
Hanks is on familiar likeable territory as Langdon and he's surrounded by a terrific supporting cast that includes Ewan McGregor (as Camerlengo Patrick McKenna) and a host of European actors such as Pierfrancesco Favino (as Inspector Olivetti), Stellan Skarsgard (as the head of the Swiss Guard), Armin Mueller-Stahl (as Cardinal Strauss) and Nikolaj Lie Kaas as the sinister assassin, Mister Gray.

In addition, the effects are remarkable, especially considering that most of the Vatican locations - including the Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Square - were recreated using sets in Hollywood and CGI.

The Great
The race against the clock element (with a Cardinal getting killed every hour in the run-up to the bomb going off) allows for some effectively pacey direction from Howard, with some decent set-pieces along the way. The script also tones down the crazier elements of the book, while still allowing for a gloriously bonkers finale that it would be churlish to spoil here.

Worth seeing?
Angels and Demons is an entertaining, well acted and decently paced thriller that never drags, despite its lengthy running time. It's also better than The Da Vinci Code. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 13/12/2018 06:38

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