Movie Review: Angels and Demons

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With the pope dead, all the Cardinals must gather for the selection of a new one in conclave. A looming threat has become quite serious however. Anti-matter, stolen from a high tech lab in Switzerland, has been hidden away in Rome. Now this wouldn’t be such a big problem, save for the fact once the batteries go out, the resulting explosion from matter touching anti-matter would be catastrophic to all of Rome and its residents.

Desperate for a solution, they call upon Robert Langdon, an expert symbolist, to decode the clues left behind.With the help of a young scientist, Vitoria, They race about Rome searching for the statues and symbols leading them to the hidden device. The Illuminatti however, are not content with just letting the two play treasure hunt.

No, in every hour, an assassin has sworn to sacrifice one preferitti on the Altar of Science until they are all eliminated. And if you try and stop him, he’ll kill you. As the plot progresses and clues become more clear, the resulting knowledge of betrayal and deception in the church is truly terrifying.

But that battery is running out- and only a few hours remain. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock….

Things I Liked

Robert, Vitoria, and other people do work together to save Rome. Even when there is nothing in it for them. A man is willing to sacrifice his life to save others, and one church leader, rises above all the lies and corrupting actions. He stays true to the procedures and is unaffected by the emotional ups and downs Rome is facing with the antimatter bomb threat.

This movie is full of noteworthy quotes about the differences between man’s flawed religion, and true faith in God. Below are some memorable ones, broken down.

Patrick: Do you believe in God, sir?
Robert: Father, I simply believe that religion…
Patrick: I did not ask if you believe what man says about God. I asked if you believe in God.
Robert: I’m an academic. My mind tells me I will never understand God.
Patrick: And your heart?
Robert: Tells me I’m not meant to. Faith is a gift that I have yet to receive.

In this short dialogue Patrick tries to convince Robert there is something more that just symbols and books to be written. Robert rejects over and over the premise of religion, as he has seen what harm it can do. He relies on his mind for answers, which in turn makes him  deny his heart. What is fascinating however, is he seems to acknowledge his need for the gift of Faith before he can actually believe. While in one sense it is blame shifting to God, on the other hand it is and impressive biblical truth.

Religion is flawed, because man is flawed. ~Cardinal Strauss~

Again, we see the thread of how flawed man is and how they have twisted religion to be something worth rejecting at times. Cardinal Strauss again says this to Robert- not to excuse the church’s actions, but to explain to him that the God we worship is in no way flawed, only our acts in attempts to worship him.

When you write about us, and you will, do so gently. Man is flawed, always. (points to himself) Even this one. ~Cardinal Strauss~

One of the last things said to Robert is this, as a last effort to convince him the problem lies not with God, but with man’s squabbles for power, or proving oneself right.

We learn the Catholic Church tried to purge the Illuminati from Rome, and this created a violent retribution, carrying forth to today. All violence done against others for the sake of religion is condemned.

Things I Didn’t Like

Remember that thing about violence? Yeah, apparently the illuminati guys didn’t get the memo. In this film we see men shot point blank, in the head, and in the back, we see some knifed in the chest (and when CPR is done, blood spouts of the punctured lungs), slashed across the neck, and many are branded with irons. With many of these deaths, gurgling of blood is accompanied.

Suspicious of murder, the pope’s tomb is dug up and a reviling corpse is shown. A man is found in a basement being eaten by rats. Another man is burned alive being held in the shape of a cross. A man commits suicide by burning himself alive as well. Another is tossed into a fountain with chains wrapped around him and left to drown. A man is killed by a car bomb. We find a corpse of a man with his eye torn out, and the gory eye on the ground a few feet away- which was used to access a secure location.

God’s name is used in vain about six times.

In the extended cut, all violence is “enhanced” (such a gross descriptor) by blood spray and longer/more detailed shots.

Closing Thoughts

Science and religion are not enemies! There are simply some things that science is just too young to understand. So the church pleads: “stop”, “slow down”, “think”, “wait”… and for this – they call us backward. But who is more ignorant: the man who cannot define lightning, or the man who does not respect its natural awesome power? ~Patrick McKenna~

As a sequel to the DaVinci Code (which I have not seen) this movie packs quite a load of spiritual quotes and violent murders. Robert, caught in the middle of it all, is somewhat of a misfit in both worlds. The world mocks him for his fascination of religious relics and symbols, while he personally does not have faith or believe in God. While intellectually smart, he is shown as a man almost to be pitied, because of his lack of purpose in the world. Some try to win him to the side of the church, but never do succeed.

Indeed, if we could pull one message out of this work, it would be that of two entities working together- specifically, science and religion (notice here I don’t say faith). All across the film we see two ideologies locked in mortal combat with each other, when, per the quote above, Patrick so wisely states that Science and religion are not enemies. We are shown a balance must be struck between the pursuit of the knowledge of creation, and respecting the world for what it is.

We see these viewpoints violently meet in this film. With dozens of people shot point blank, necks being slashed open, and the amount of blood shown rivaling some war movies, several times one goes “That’s enough for me.” All of this done because of the believed irreparable divide between the two religions.

When someone asked me to describe this film, I said it was a National Treasure on steroids. And thinking on it more, Angels and Demons truly is. It has a thrilling twist and compelling story, a mystery led by clues to each following destination, and characters which are not even sure of themselves. Where this movie goes off on a rabbit trail however, are some impressive quotes regarding religions and faith, and reprehensible violence.

Which bring me to the last thought about this movie. I mentioned before the quote Cardinal Strauss made when approached about religion. He said “Religion is flawed, because man is flawed“. This could quite possible be the deepest quote in the film. And that’s why I’ll end with this quote adapted as such- “Angels and Demons is flawed, because man is flawed.” This movie definitely has its bullet ridden holes, but like religion, this movie should not be so quickly dismissed.

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