Smug, know-it-all, self-righteous prick acts like the stereotypical ugly American tourist by ordering everyone around and contributing a nonstop running commentary on all things esoteric, always looking for the opportunity to critique and correct the native population’s interpretation of their own history and events.
Tom Hanks’ character, Robert Langdon, is still grinding a 400 year old axe against the Catholic Church for silencing Galileo and chiseling the penises off of statues. But apparently, he has no problem with their more recent transgressions related to pedophilia and their stance on birth control and abortion. No, better to take the Church to task for something they can’t change and which has no relevance whatsoever to the real world problems of today. In this sense, his character is the consummate academic.
Tom Hanks’ hairpiece is just as equally smug, especially after having gone on what I assume is a Jenny Craig diet for hair, and slimming down dramatically from its appearance in The Da Vinci Code. Tom Hanks’ gut simply repeats its previous performance from A League of Their Own and the first part of Castaway.
Oh, the plot revolves around some priest who is pissed because physicists working on the Large Haldron Collider Project have the audacity to call the residual anti-matter created by their experiments the “God Particle,” which he interprets as an attempt by science to lay claim to the miracle of creation at the expense of God. So, in order to rally the knuckle-dragging faithful in that glorious march backwards away from knowledge and progress, he orchestrates an Illuminati threat by kidnapping the four potential papal candidates, stealing a vial of anti-matter, and threatening to kill each cardinal every hour on the hour before detonating the anti-matter bomb and leveling the Vatican while hundreds of thousands of the faithful are gathered in St. Peter’s Square awaiting the election of the new Pope. So, the Vatican calls in Dr. Smug to stop this devious scheme by trying to figure out…well…something having to do with the thousands of old churches that litter Rome like inner city liquor stores.
And why are these churches important? They have something to do with the Path of Light leading to the first Church of the Illuminati where Langdon believes the four cardinals and the anti-matter bomb are located. But Langdon and Hank’s hair are thwarted at nearly every turn by Stellan Skarsgard, playing the Swiss Guard version of the stupid 80s Action chief, and by a nameless hitman whose efficiency at killing without remorse is matched only by his inexplicable refusal to just put two into the back of Langdon’s head and one into Hanks’ hair and just get on with the plot. Langdon and his useless female physicist sidekick match wits with the killer in a race against the clock to locate and save the four kidnapped cardinals and the stolen vial of anti-matter. Unfortunately, the academic hero and his plucky gal Friday spend the bulk of their time in the Vatican archives reading and ending up in the wrong place after misinterpreting all of the clues, resulting in the death of three of the four papal candidates and the destruction of irreplaceable manuscripts, relics, and artifacts. Perhaps the Vatican should have called Inspector Clouseau instead.
But enough about the ridiculous plot. The real question is does the movie live up to the controversy created over the last couple of weeks by the Catholic Church’s criticism of the movie and author Dan Brown specifically? The answer, sadly, is no. But it’s not like the opportunity to drive a stake into the heart of religious zeal is absent, director Ron Howard just refuses to pick up the goddamn hammer and have a whack. At one point, Skarsgard’s stupid chief tells Langdon, “My Church feeds the hungry and comforts the sick. What does your church do?” This is the very definition of a softball question that Langdon should have hit well over the center field wall. But Langdon sheepishly looks away instead of choking up on the bat, squaring his shoulders, and replying, “Well, my church grows the food that feeds the hungry and find the cures that heal the sick, fuck you very much.” Instead, we get some half-assed bullshit message about how science and religion are really telling the same story but using different languages. Yeah, right.
While The Da Vinci Code was an autistic child, Angels and Demons is a full-blown Downer baby with fetal alcohol syndrome.