Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Tom Hanks, Ayelet Zurer, Ewan McGregor
"The antimatter is suspended, there, in an airtight nano-composite shell with electromagnets on each end. But if it were to fall out of suspension, and come into contact with matter, say with the bottom of the canister, the two opposing forces would annihilate one another. Violently." – Vittoria Vetra (I know this is a long quote but it really does sum things up).
Blink and you might miss all the historical intrigue acting as little more than script decoration in Da Vinci Code-follow up Angels & Demons. Ron Howard takes another swing at directing Dan Brown out of the dreary convolutions of his first attempt, ramping up the action and explosion alike, succeeding for the most part if you can ignore all the codswallop.
Plenty are easily suckered when it comes to conspiracy thrillers and puzzle adventures and so it is I find myself tricked by all the lavish art history sets, Italian accents, Vatican intrigue, secret societies, even secreter passageways and a theatrical Hans Zimmer score. Throw it all into a game of Pictionary meets 24 where Tom Hanks is teamed up with a beautiful not-Audrey Tautou European sidekick Ayelet Zurer, both racing to prevent the four frontrunners for the newly vacated Pope job being executed B-horror style every hour and an antimatter explosion at the stroke of midnight and, well, it’s all a bit breathless. For the first 100 minutes at least until the fidgeting, clock-watching and multiple endings start.
Once flying through streets of Rome in black cop cars has worn thin the script – built entirely around smart people explaining stuff real fast, juris-my-diction crap, and regular intervals of pontificating on Science and Religion – proves almost as turgid as the first time out. Solving clues to the implausible crimes at play by apparently a sole and devilishly bland evil assassin type (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) just a minute too late gets boring, as do the incessant twists. Is it Ewan McGregor’s earnest deputy Pope who dunnit? What about the moustache-twiddling cardinal played by Armin Mueller-Stahl? Or maybe it was that mean-spirited Swiss Guard chief Stellan Skarsgard?
‘Who cares’ screams Howard as he dazzles with yet another sweeping, melodramatic shot over St. Peter’s Square at night, ‘it’s much more exciting than the last one’! And like all joyrides this one goes on too long, spluttering to a finish after one final grand act of gratuitous absurdity. Don’t let all the smarty-pants, ancient name-dropping dupe you; this one is as dumb as they come.
Angels & Demons is on wide-release now
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Director: Ron Howard