A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Since "Angels & Demons" depends on a split-second schedule and a ticking time bomb that could destroy the Vatican, it's a little distracting when the Camerlengo, a priest entrusted with the pope's duties between papacies, breaks into the locked enclave of the College of Cardinals and lectures them on centuries of church history.
These men, many of them elderly, may face death in minutes, which the Camerlengo knows. The Commander of the Swiss Guard thinks he can evacuate the Vatican and the hundreds of thousands of faithful waiting in St. Peter's Square in 15 minutes before an explosion vaporizes "a big chunk of Rome," but frankly we in the audience think a lot of monsignors back home are going to receive promotions real soon.
Since very few plot details in the film are remotely plausible, including its desperate chase across Rome, the history lesson is excusable. Having been told about the long war between the church and the Illuminati, and religion and science, we are grateful for the briefing, even if the cardinals already know most of the history. This kind of film requires us to be very forgiving, and if we are, it promises to entertain. "Angels & Demons" succeeds.
It's based on a novel that came before "The DaVinci Code" in Dan Brown's oeuvre. Prof. Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is at Harvard when he is summoned from a swimming pool by an emissary from the Vatican, and flown to Rome to face a crisis. Earlier, we learned, a rare, sealed vial of anti-matter was stolen from the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, and a note taking credit comes from the Illuminati, a secret society that has long hated the Catholic Church because of the days when it persecuted Galileo and other scientists.