Directed by Ron Howard


Robert Langdon investigates the kidnapping of the Vatican’s most promising prelates.

In 2006, The Da Vinci Code’s blend of blasphemy and “grandiloquent hackery” translated into a global phenomenon, said Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. The sequel presents Tom Hanks’ Harvard professor and “eternal gasbag,” Robert Langdon, with a new mystery: Who has kidnapped the Catholic Church’s four most promising papal candidates, and will they be killed by a stolen canister of antimatter? But the real question is why Hanks let director Ron Howard rope him into another “lumbering mediocrity” of an action movie. The supporting cast here has the most fun, said Dana Stevens in Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard, and Armin Mueller-Stahl “all stomp gamely around the Holy See,” playing power brokers within the church’s political apparatus. Howard faithfully re-creates the Vatican’s lavish interiors, then uses them as backdrops against which to depict “bodies being branded, tortured, and burned alive.” The mix of violence and nonsense is almost bad enough to be good, said Wesley Morris in The Boston Globe. But “there’s an art to making trash,” and Howard’s too much of a straight arrow to pull it off.