Ron Howard's film of The Da Vinci Code angered the Vatican for implying it would kill to keep its secrets, but the movie's greatest sin was being long and dull.

Ron Howard's film of The Da Vinci Code angered the Vatican for implying it would kill to keep its secrets, but the movie's greatest sin was being long and dull.

Howard seems to have learned the error of his ways for his second Dan Brown adaptation, Angels & Demons. Rampant with speeding cars and elaborate murders, the movie's rarely boring, but not much fun either.

It is, however, outlandishly preposterous, even given the first film's track record of self-flagellating albino holy warriors.

It begins with Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) being unexpectedly beckoned by his old foes at the Vatican. He's asked to use his knowledge of ancient pro-science sect the Illuminati, which appears to be making a vengeance-fueled comeback, to prevent the deaths of four elder cardinals (one per hour) and the destruction of Vatican City via stolen anti-matter.

Langdon must connect newfound Illuminati symbols with ancient texts and strategically placed sculptures to find the cardinals and the anti-matter. This involves much racing through the city and onscreen time checks for Hanks, and inordinate suspension of disbelief for the viewer.

The race against the clock keeps Angels tight, but the script by Akiva Goldsman and David Koepp begs many questions. Are all the higher-ups at the Vatican that shady or weak? Isn't there one other symbologist on the planet to do some of Langdon's legwork?

Its rapid-fire sleuthing recalls the National Treasure movies, while other parts made me think of the Monty Python skit "The Bishop," with Terry Jones running around London not saving clergy in peril. The biggest difference: Angels makes the mistake of taking itself seriously.