As the opening titles roll on this Da Vinci Code follow-up, muted strings play the plodding original’s theme before being interrupted by an urgent, thundering choral motif.
It’s a statement of intent from director Ron Howard: Angels & Demons is a different beast. Tom Hanks returns as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who’s begrudgingly called upon by the Vatican on the night of a papal election to help foil an attack by science-worshipping secret society The Illuminati.
Their nefarious scheme? To off the ‘preferiti’ (the four favoured candidates to become Pope) one by one, before blowing up Catholic HQ with the world’s media watching…
If Code’s crucial flaw was staying too faithful to its source, Demons’ biggest success is that it rings the changes – Dan Brown’s patchy novel is ruthlessly streamlined into a slick action-thriller.
The assassinations and bomb threats offer jolts of excitement, while the six-hour timeframe adds a 24-style propulsion – one that doesn’t really give you time to dwell on the silliness of it all.
Though Hanks looks much more comfortable as the puzzle-solving prof, the real star here is a stunning part-set, part-CG recreation of St Peter’s Square (filming at the real location was boycotted by the Vatican). This feat demands a doc of its own – trouble is, you’ll only find it on Blu-ray, as well as a hefty Making Of and Extended Cut.
DVD buyers have to make do with three throwaway featurettes. Now there’s a conspiracy…
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