May 21, 2009
Clues in search of a mystery
There's a moment near the beginning of the new Tom Hanks film, Angels and Demons, when Ewan McGregor, who plays a young priest, explains that he once joined the Swiss Gaurd and was trained to fly a helicopter. There's no reason for the speech except to set up the denoument in which McGregor leaps behind the controls of a helicopter and saves the day. The filmmakers were presumably worried that the sight of a priest piloting a copter might otherwise prove incongruous. What's incongruous to me is that they bothered at all. I mean what was it about that detail, in the blizzard of bullshit that is the rest of the movie, that cried out for their urgent attention? It's weird what some people get hung up on. Far more pressing to me, for instance, was how the clues to a current-day terrorist plot happen to be contained in a number of prominent Roman tourist sites dating back several centuries — St Peters, a Bernini sculpture, the manuscripts of Galilleo. Did the criminals nip back in time and plant the clues, just on the off chance that someone would want to solve the mystery, a few centuries later? Why would they do that? Wouldn't they want to get off scot-free? This movie is bonkers. I spent most of it staring at Tom Hanks hair, as I tend to do these days, impressed by his implants but certain they were beyond my price range. Why can Nick Cage not afford hair like that?