Literature: Angels & Demons

In his first adventure, Robert Langdon gets called late at night by the head of CERN over an urgent matter - and is faxed the picture of a mangled corpse, what used to be the facility's most prominent scientist, branded with the word "Illuminati" on his chest.

Being an expert on the Illuminati signage, this lights a fire under his ass. The Head of CERN, Maximilian Kohler, arranges for a plane to pick him up to investigate. Once at the CERN facility and joined by the late scientist's daughter, they find that a quarter gram (it's a lot, trust us) of Anti-Matter has been stolen, using the dead man's biometrics.

At the same time, a Swiss Guard member finds said canister, stuck somewhere in Vatican City - during the elections for a new pope to replace the previous one, who had died rather suddenly.

Cue mad rush to find the Anti-Matter canister before it annihilates Vatican City.


Provides examples of:

  • Apathetic Citizens: Averted in the film; Langdon can't get help to save the final victim (who's Strapped to an Operating Table attached to weights and then dumped in water) because he's shouting in English. Just as it appears all is lost, some bystanders leap into the water and help drag them out.
  • Art Imitates Art: In the film, the explosion of the helicopter carrying the antimatter illuminates the sky above the Vatican into something resembling ceiling frescos depicting the Apotheosis. Which is kind of fitting as the Camerlengo was believed to have sacrificed himself in the explosion to save Rome in a somewhat Messianic manner.
  • Ancient Conspiracy - Averted. The Illuminati no longer exist. The real conspiracy is far more sinister (but is entirely orchestrated by one rather unhinged priest and his hired gun.)
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: the last scene of the movie is one for the new Pope.

  • Batman Gambit: The Camerlengo had killed the Pope after finding out he had a child, and hired the Hassassin to steal the Anti-Matter canister and kill the Preferiti so he can "find" the canister via "divine inspiration" to get him as Pope. Why? To restore the world's faith in Judeo-Christian religions and make them much more hardline on science.
  • Big Bad: The Camerlengo
  • Bilingual Bonus: Averted. Rudimentary knowledge of Italian could have filled in a couple of gaps in dialogue, had Dan Brown checked what he was writing; the author's idea of the language is some ungodly mixture of Spanish, Latin (!) and Italian, complete with spelling and grammar mistakes. Some of these mistakes have been corrected in later editions.
    • Arabic speakers could understand the assassin's monologue as well as some of the other occasional Arabic references, and those with enough knowledge of Arabic culture could even guesstimate his nationality and his home dialect.
  • Bookshelf Dominoes: In the film, how Langdon escapes the Vatican Archives. Though it takes emptying a pistol into the glass, and Langdon passing out on top of the bookshelf, before it breaks.
  • Cat Scare: In the film when the protagonists are searching for the first victim, they're startled by radios and plastic sheeting crackling.
    • In the book, it's a rat scare.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: While at CERN, Langdon sees someone sky-diving in a wind tunnel and learns about how fabric creates wind resistance and slows one's fall. At the end of the book, when he falls from the helicopter, he uses his jacket to do just that and survive the Soft Water of the Tiber river. A Little Did I Know is also provided by the author.
  • Calling Card: Each of the Preferiti are to be slayed in a manner corresponding to the Illuminati's elements - For example, the first, who is branded with Earth, is killed by having soil stuffed down his throat and thrown into a burial ground. In addition, the mastermind specifically instructed the Hassassin to steal the Anti-Matter to show that science destroys religion. Literally. Exploited; it's all supposed to be divine intervention in the book and the only thing to come close to this is Langdon survived falling from helicopter, and even that was helped by science.
  • Claustrophobia: Langdon. He's able to fight it.
  • Commander Contrarian: Olivetti. Rocher picks up the slack later. The trope is justified in the latter case.
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): Averted when Langdon gets sprayed with blood after Vetra breathes into a victim's mouth, because the killer has made sure to puncture his lungs.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Whatever the Hassassin does with the prostitute he books a session with, she was badly bruised and unconscious - or faking it so he'd stop - at the end of it.
  • The Dragon: The Hassassin. In the film he is never explicitly called one.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Kohler.
    • In the film the man who comes from the Vatican to enlist Langdon's help invokes this trope, though not by name.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Although the Camerlengo's name is mentioned briefly, the narrative and all the characters just refer to him as Camerlengo.
  • Exact Time to Failure: The battery for the antimatter containment device lasts precisely 24 hours. The person who did it even took it out of his recharge so it could explode exactly at midnight in The Vatican.
  • Eye Scream: In the novel, the safe to get the antimatter requiring retina scans. You can guess what happened next.
  • Fantastic Catholicism: Let's make this clear. As far everyone knows, the Church don't contract assassins. At least not today. This element isn't present in the book, surprisingly so.
  • The Film of the Book: Released in 2009. Now with less stupid hair. To make things highly confusing, the film is a sequel to The Da Vinci Code film.
  • Four Is Death: All the four Preferiti dies in the book, and the death of the fourth is really saddening. Averted in the movie, though, when the fourth not only survives, but becomes the new Pope.
  • Fun With Palindromes: A variant — it uses ambigrams instead, which read the same when turned upside-down.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Yes, Commander Richter has. Unfortunately, it saves the life of neither him nor the person he told.
  • Heroism Equals Job Qualification: Before it turns out he was the man responsible for it being there the first place, the cardinals seriously consider making Father Patrick McKenna the new Pope for saving the Vatican city from an Antimatter bomb by flying it away to a safe distance in a helicopter.
  • Hope Spot:
    • The third Preferiti in the book, who Langdon manages to reach - but cannot save.
    • Also in the book, the [[fourth prefertiti, whom Langdon almost manages to save]]
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Sure, Hassassin, believe that the guy named after the two-faced God is trustworthy.
  • Hot Scientist: Vittoria.
  • In Mysterious Ways: In the film, Cardinal Strauss tells Robert he is confident God did send a defender of His church in this time of crisis: Robert Langdon.
  • Kill 'em All: In the book, Landgon fails to save any of the Preferiti. Averted in the movie, where he saved the last one.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: In the book, the Hassassin plans to rape and kill Vittoria as a "reward" for his hard work. However, he gets no further than tying her up and groping her before Langdon arrives to save her.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Both used and averted in the film.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: "[Langdon] hated hospitals, but they certainly beat aliens harvesting his testicles."
  • Light Is Not Good:
    • The Vatican is menaced with a weapon that turns matter to light energy.
    • The movie version of the Hassassin also wears white
  • Mad Scientist: Also Averted.
  • Religion Versus Science: The Illuminati vs the Church.
    • It's mentioned that by destroying Vatican City with an anti-matter explosion, it will be the ultimate triumph of science over religion.
    • However some of the bishops express the opinion that the two do not need to be opposed and there is room for both in the world, such as Vittora's father, who was a priest. The book itself takes this stance overall.
  • Manly Tears: In the book when Langdon failed to save preferiti Baggia's life.
  • Man on Fire: The fate of Janus the Camerlengo.
  • Meaningful Background Event: In the film at St. Peter's Square, the Assassin can be seen leading the second of the Preferiti to the western wind marker while the camera is focused on the police.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Following the Path of Illumination requires you to not only be an expert on science, Christianity, and various pagan belief systems, but also the train of thought used by Bernini at the time.
    • Justified, since only the Illuminati were supposed to figure it out. Only someone who embraced all aspects of science and wasn't blinded or intimidated by the Vatican. An agent of the Vatican wouldn't understand anything that had to do with science and/or other religions, especially the ones the Vatican despised.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The teaser trailer for the film features a sinister voice talking about how the Illuminati are about to take their revenge. But it turns out that the Big Bad just used the Illuminati as scapegoats for his plot, and they probably no longer even exist.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: The removal of the romantic plot between Langdon and Vittoria from the film.
  • Not So Different: The hitman's religious clients.
    "You know, when they call me — and they all call me — it is so important to them that I know that what they ask is the Lord's will. Or Allah's or Yahweh's."
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Dr. Vittoria Vetra is a physicist who knows more about medicine and poisons than physics. She knows the medical symptoms of the pope's poisoning but needs Langdon to explain to her that a low-oxygen environment can cause light-headedness. note 
  • Obviously Evil: The Cardinals and at least some of the Preferiti in the movie don't look anything other than sinister, conniving old men. Subverted Trope; none of them are evil at all. Instead t's the seemingly angelic Carmelengo who's the Big Bad.
    • Of course, given the shadow council in The Da Vinci Code, this could be a case of Not Me This Time. Archbishop Simeon and Cardinal Strauss's lines mirror Cardinal Aringarosa, and even if they aren't the Big Bad, there is still a definitive Sinister Minister feel to all cardinals.
    • Completely averted on the book. Their biggest weaknesss is not moral, but their own old age and lack of contact with reality, or at least that's what the villain says in his Motive Rant.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: It's set in Rome/Vatican. Go figure.
  • Planar Shockwave: averted in the movie, the antimatter detonation produced a invisible and expanding sphere of energy. Also averted in the book, where the antimatter bomb (a bomb that was supposed to clock in at about 5 kilotons) blew up with out even ruffling anyone's tie. It did, however, shake things up.
  • Plot-Powered Stamina: Langdon.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • The movie has a really bad case of this. Albeit this was supposed to be a more or less rational thriller, a single assassin manages to kill the entire Italian and Papal police presence at a top-priority crime scene, using little more than a Silencer Pistol.
    • Shortly after, Langdon only manages to convince no more than two Carabinieri to accompany him to the soon-to-be crime scene, to stop the killer in time. When the van with the assassin and the next victim drives up to them boldly, the policemen immediately try to sneak up to them, one by one, and in full view of the assassin on the driver's seat. They are also sniped by the killer one by one as a result, who then goes pushing his fourth victim into the water unhindered. They would have had better chances had they simply ordered him out of the vehicle at gunpoint.
    • Later in the movie, Langdon and the Italian special units storm the presumed criminal hideout. But instead of listening to Langdon, they run off into the other direction for no obvious reason, abandoning him in the killer's layer, even as Langdon begs them to stay with him. A few minutes later, he finds himself face-to-face with the armed assassin.
      • It's probably not used here deliberately, but there is something of a running gag in Italian culture revolving around the supposed inferior intelligence of the Carabinieri (but not all police) in particular.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The film version at least in some respects. While it retains the basic plot and many of the key points, it's a rather different creature from the novel. For starters, it's shown as a sequel to The Da Vinci Code.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: At one point in the film version, a policeman with a neat forehead entry wound can be clearly seen.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Inverted. In the book, Vittoria becomes romantically involved with Langdon, but in the movie, this is never even hinted at.
  • Punch Clock Villain: The hit man in the film. With one exception, he tries to avoid harming anybody except his contracted targets and people directly trying to stop him. In one scene, he has Langdon and Vittoria at gunpoint and tells them that he won't kill them unless they keep interfering.
  • Quick Draw: Part of The Dragon's shtick in the film.
  • Race Lift: To avoid offense in the current political climate, the Assassin is changed from a suave and sophisticated Arabic Hassassin with an addiction to sadism, killing, and rape into a European professional with some mercy and honor who is only in it for the money.
  • Rare Guns: The Swiss Guard arms its snipers with $10,000-a-unit Heckler & Koch PSG-1s, probably because it's one of the few snipers that doesn't look like an American-made deer rifle.
  • Red Shirt Army: The Swiss Guard and the Vatican Police.
  • Ripped from the Phone Book: Vittoria Vetra rips the page from a priceless document by Galileo (likely the only one left in the entire world) to the shock of Dr Langdon, rather than waste time copying it. Langdon's reaction is also priceless.
  • Sherlock Scan: Langdon does it in the movies when it determines that the man who comes to see him is jetlagged because a) he has bags under his eyes, b) it's 5am, and c) he's from the Vatican.
  • Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: A quarter-gram of positrons mixed with another quarter gram of electrons yields enough photons to cook Nagasaki and at medium altitude should have blinded every naked eye in Rome (including the onlooking crowd in Piazza San Pietro), scorched every non-reflective surface in line of sight and set ablaze every dark surface. It didn't happen that way..note 
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The fourth Preferiti.
  • Soft Water: Langdon survives a fall from the helicopter into the Tiber river thanks to a tip he learned from a Chekhov's Classroom. It's noted by the emergency personnel who save him that he didn't break his bones.
    • In the book it is explained that Langdon aimed for the river because the frothy water has more air in it, somehow making it softer than standing water.
  • Spanner in the Works: Langdon and Kohler. If Kohler didn't film the whole thing, and Langdon didn't survive the fall from the helicopter and get the video camera for the cardinals to view, Carlo's plan would have succeeded. And the whole Langdon get on helicopter was out of Carlo's plan.
  • Treachery Cover Up: Ventresca, at least in the film version.
  • Those Two Guys: Two BBC journalists start following Robert during his chase to save the kidnapped Preferiti in hopes of a better story and an award.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Poor Langdon.
  • Viewers Are Morons:
    • During an early sequence at CERN, Langdon takes a back seat from his usual role of Mr. Exposition to play Audience Avatar while Dr. Kohler and Vittoria explain "dark matter" and the "Big Bang."
    • The novel assumes readers can't make the mental jump between the words "Hassassin" and "Assassin."
  • Vow of Celibacy: One character is the son of a monk and a nun who wanted to have a child but were not willing to do it by breaking their vows and having sex. They used artificial insemination. The mother was expelled anyway when she became obviously pregnant.
  • Wham Line: Arguably for the narrative, definitely in-story, for the Camerlengo:
    "The pope fathered a son."
  • Wall of Weapons: An Anachronism Stew version in the film with the Swiss Guard armoury, where modern assault rifles are racked next to medieval halberds and crossbows.
    • Somewhat Truth in Television, The Swiss Guard armory contains weaponry from all times, from a 1st century gladiator sword to 4th century executioner sword, to medieval armor.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Pulled off by the Camerlengo in the film and the book. In the latter at least it's successful enough to get two people shot dead on the spot.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: The Preferiti die. Except, in the film, for the fourth. It helps that the antimatter and the murder of the cardinals are completely unrelated to each other, and stage two could be perfectly executed as long stage one keeped the cardinals of electing a Pope.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Just after toppling a huge bookcase of incredibly rare books to break open the glass wall protecting the Archives so he wouldn't suffocate, the lights and air come back on. Langdon just looks up at the air vent incredulously.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In the film, The Dragon is blown up by car bomb after completing his tasks. He's the only one who didn't see it coming.note 
  • You Shall Not Pass: The bishops in the novel try this but they can't do a thing against Vittoria. "What you gonna do? Kill me?"

Alternative Title(s):

Angels And Demons