Angels & Demons is a book in the Dan Brown series following symbologist Robert Langdon. Tom Hanks portrays Langdon in this movie as well as in 2006’s The Davinci Code and 2016’s Inferno. The writing team of David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman brought the novel to the big screen. They are well-accomplished writers in the action and thriller genres. Ron Howard is behind the camera. Ron Howard’s signature style of not having a style but using technical excellence in a straightforward way is heavily present.
Dan Brown's novels are quick reads, aided by short chapters to make you feel like you are even more rapidly progressing through the books. That frenetic pace is carried over to the screen as you rush from location to location around Rome. Also like the novels, the story builds to a crescendo early in the third act. Clever readers and watchers with any sort of Dan Brown history will be too smart to think the movie is pointing you in the right direction though. Brown tells somewhat formulaic stories, and once you have consumed a few you know where to look for clues.
Ron Howard is known as a director that can get the job done. He was brought in to salvage Solo: A Star Wars Story because everyone in Hollywood knows he can complete a movie and you will have a good product in the end. This movie could have used a bit more style. The lives of thousands of people are on the line and somehow, they never really feel in danger. The pacing is wonderful as you fly through some parts of the journey while lingering just long enough at others to keep up. I would be interested to see what a Safdie Brother’s take on a Dan Brown book would be. I am sure they could ramp up anxiety levels in the viewer.
The movie clocks in at 2:18 and deserves most of that time. The very end of the movie drags out a little, but it is needed to tie off several loose ends. The movie is low stakes enough that it doesn’t take an immense amount of brainpower. The action is somewhat kid-friendly with just a few scenes of blood, though you should watch it first and make your judgment. This is the best film of the Robert Langdon franchise; The Da Vinci Code and Inferno being the other two. It is enjoyable enough but doesn’t break any new ground.