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Literature / Angels & Demons

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From Santi's earthly tomb with demon's hole,
'Cross Rome the mystic elements unfold.
The path of light is laid, the sacred test.
Let angels guide thee on thy lofty quest.

In his first adventure by Dan Brown, published in 2000, symbologist 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 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 Antimatter has been stolen, using the dead man's biometrics.

Meanwhile, the pope has died, and the cardinals of the Catholic Church are in Vatican City in Rome to elect a new Pope. The Swiss Guard is alerted to the appearance of the stolen antimatter, which has been hidden somewhere in the Vatican with a security camera pointed at it so the protagonists can see its timer counting down. When the canister's battery runs out at midnight, the antimatter will come into contact with the physical matter of the container, causing an explosion comparable to that of a nuclear weapon.

Cue a mad rush to find the antimatter canister before it annihilates Vatican City, searching the city's monuments for historical clues and attempting to save four kidnapped cardinals along the way.

A film adaptation was released in 2009.

Angels & Demons contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Several in The Film of the Book
    • The subject of Plot-Triggering Death, Leonardo Vetri, changes into Silvano Bentivoglio. He's also no longer Vittoria's adoptive father here.
    • Commander Contrarian Maximilian Kohler changes into Maximilian Richter.
    • Big Good Italian Cardinal Mortati changes into German Cardinal Strauss (his actor is German).
    • Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca changes into Camerlengo Patrick McKenna. His nationality is also changed; he's an Italian in the book, and an Irishman in the film (although his actor is Scottish).
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: In the film, Vittoria and Leonardo's character are no longer related and were merely colleagues at CERN, thus she also no longer has a personal vendetta against the antagonists for killing her father. Her status as a Love Interest for Langdon is also completely omitted.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen:
    • Langdon is trapped in the airtight Vatican Archives when a rolling blackout shuts off the air filtration system. He barely manages to break one of the reinforced windows by dropping a heavy bookshelf on it then shooting it a couple times to weaken it when that fails.
    • He again nearly suffocates when he is trapped in a sarcophagus later (in the book at least).
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The crimes bear the calling card of the Illuminati, an anti-religious secret society dating back to the Enlightenment and assumed to be extinct. Subverted when it turns out the Illuminati are indeed extinct and were not behind the antimatter plot: it was all carried out by a hired thug and orchestrated by the Camerlengo, who intended to defeat the threat he had manufactured in order to set himself up as a fake hero and get himself elected Pope.
  • 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.
  • Antimatter: The primary MacGuffin in the plot is an Antimatter bomb developed by Vittoria alongside her father/colleague, which got stolen by the villains.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In the film, the conversation between Langdon and the Camerlengo before he's given access to the Vatican archives:
    Camerlengo: Do you believe in God, sir?
    Langdon: Father, I simply believe that religion—
    Camerlengo: I did not ask if you believe what man says about God. I asked if you believe in God.
    Langdon: I'm an academic. My mind tells me I will never understand God.
    Camerlengo: And your heart?
    Langdon: Tells me I'm not meant to. Faith is a gift that I have yet to receive.
    Camerlengo: Be delicate with our treasures.
  • 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.
  • Artistic License – Geography: While it is technically possible for a vehicle to drive onto Piazza Navona, it would be way too crowded due to the tourist and cafe nightlife for anyone not to immediately notice. Also, the real Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (AKA Fountain of the Four Rivers) is surrounded by small, spaced concrete pillars designed to protect it from any vehicles getting too close. The real fountain is also smaller and shallower, which would make attempted assassination via drowning very unlikely.
  • Artistic Licence – History: During an university lecture, Langdon claims that "the practice of 'god-eating' — that is, Holy Communion — was borrowed from the Aztecs." In reality, the practice of the Holy Communion goes back to the 1st century, while Aztec culture did not rise until the 14th century - and in any case, there was no contact between the Christian world and the inhabitants of Central America before 1492.
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: The blast from an antimatter explosion would have much the same effects as those of a nuclear explosion, including the thermal radiation effects. This means that in the film, instead of the Camerlengo dramatically parachuting away from the explosion, his parachute would have been instantly burned to ashes, leaving him to plunge to his death — assuming the burns weren't severe enough to kill him first.
  • Artistic License – Traditional Christianity:
    • In the book, the Pope is revealed to have fathered a child with a nun as a young priest, through in vitro fertilization (IVF). After this fact has been revealed, the Cardinals try to justify it by saying that the man and woman in question committed no sins as they did not have physical sex and thus remained chaste (although the nun was of course kicked out of her order once it became obvious that she was pregnant). However, IVF has always been banned by the Catholic Church and procuring it has always been a mortal sin.
    • At the end of the film, the Cardinals have reservations on making the Camerlengo the next Pope, including saying that he's too young. In truth, there is no age requirement on being elected to the papacy.
    • Upon learning the new Pope's name, Langdon comments that there have been many Pope Marks. There has only been one with that papal name.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The term preferiti, while an actual word in Italian, is used incorrectly. The word that should be used is papabili, which means "apt and likely to be chosen as Pope".
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: The last scene of the movie is one for the new Pope.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In the film, shortly after the Cardinals decide to elect the Camerlengo as Pope, he is shown being summoned to the Sistine Chapel by the College, seemingly to give him the good news. It later turns out this scene takes place after he has already been uncovered as the true mastermind behind the whole Illuminati plot, and the Cardinals were actually summoning him to the chapel to be arrested for his crimes.
  • Batman Gambit: The Camerlengo had killed the Pope after finding out he had a child, and hired the Hassassin to steal the Antimatter canister and kill the Preferiti so he can "find" the canister via "divine inspiration" to get himself elected Pope. Why? To restore the world's faith in Judeo-Christian religion and make them much more hardline on science.
  • Big Bad: Janus, the mysterious employer of the Hassassin, puts the whole plot in motion by planting the Antimatter Bomb and arranging for the Cardinal's murder. His true identity is the Camerlengo.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Rudimentary knowledge of Italian could have filled in a couple of gaps in dialogue which consist of untranslated Italian. Note that in the first editions of the book, these Italian sentences contained lots of grammar error and mistranslation, but 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 guess at his nationality and his home dialect.
    • In the movie, the Swiss guards speak Swiss-German amongst each other, not all of which is translated.
  • Bookshelf Dominoes: In the film, how Langdon intentionally topples the shelves in the Vatican Archives in an attempt to escape the hermetically sealed (and locked) library, which is quickly running out of breathable air. The glass is reinforced and bulletproof, however, so it fails to work... initially. Also takes much longer because the shelf is indeed anchored to the floor.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: The secret CERN lab where the antimatter was kept was only accessible via retinal scan by Vittoria and her father/colleague. The assassin kills and rips out the eyes of her father/colleague in order to gain access. The film even has a scene of Vittoria using the eye scanner at CERN, not realizing until she touches her chin that there's blood on the chin rest below it. She's then horrified to discover an eyeball lying on the floor, and then a colleague with his eye cut out.
  • Bottomless Bladder:: The story takes place in a relatively short period of time, and the main character go without ever needing to eat, sleep, or use the restroom over more than a 24-hour period.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Seemingly played straight, then averted. Just when it looks like no one is going to help, several citizens jump into the fountain and help Langdon rescue the drowning Cardinal.
  • Calling Card: Invoked by The Hassassin who engages in theme killing. He also brands each of his victims with the name of the element he killed them with. He does the killings this way to frame an Ancient Conspiracy, one that is already extinct.
  • 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.
  • Central Theme: In the film, prejudice and traditionalism. Which the movie exploits by making the handsome young maverick priest note  the Big Bad, while the less tolerant, less open-minded, and less conventionally attractive Church members are innocent.
  • Chain of People: Rather, group of people. in the film, Robert calls for help in English as he desperately tries to save the fourth Preferiti. Fortunately, even if he can't speak Italian, the bystanders can recognize a man in distress. A few people jump into the fountain, realize the situation, and work together to pull the stretcher out of the water.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Vittoria is mentioned to be a yoga guru and extremely flexible. This comes in handy during the confrontation with the Hassassin when she uses her flexibility to free herself from her bonds and saves Langdon just as he's about to be killed.
  • Calling Card: Each of the four Preferiti are to be slain in a manner corresponding to the Illuminati's four 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 Antimatter 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 a helicopter, and even that was helped by science.
  • Christianity is Catholic: It is set in and around the Vatican, after all.
  • Claustrophobia: Langdon has claustrophobia, after a traumatic incident he endured during his childhood note . He's able to fight it when he gets trapped, first in an airtight section of a library, then later in a sarcophagus.
  • Commander Contrarian: Olivetti. Rocher picks up the slack later. The trope is justified in the latter case.
  • Containment Field: A magnetic cage/trap keeps the antimatter suspended in a vacuum, to prevent it from touching any regular matter and annihilating in a giant explosion of pure energy. Of course, the villain has to go and unplug it. Luckily, it has a battery-backed UPS built-in.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Both played straight and Averted:
    • Averted - Langdon gets sprayed with blood after Vetra breathes into a victim's mouth, because the killer has made sure to puncture his lungs.
    • Played straight - Vetra should never have attempted CPR in the first place: she attempted it after it's established he's able to breathe by himself, and you should never attempt it on somebody who is able to do so.
  • Creator's Culture Carryover: A British camerawoman for the British Broadcasting Corporation is referred to as "African American". Her partner is also allegedly British, but seems to think and speak using an awful lot of American terminology and in an Imagine Spot he likens himself to Dan Rather — who is almost totally unknown in Britain. Even if the reporter has heard of Rather, if he were really British he would have likened himself to Trevor McDonald.
  • Creepy Catholicism: Religious buildings in Vatican City are used as locations for the murders. Also, the description of the papal conclave wouldn't be out of place in a locked room mystery.
  • Cuckold Horns: The novel has a paragraph or two where Langdon notes that the symbology of this means that it's actually a compliment to the one you're bunny ears-ing's virility.
  • Death by Recognition: At the start of the novel, Leonardo Vetra sees and identifies the killer just before he dies.
  • Disney Villain Death: The Hassassin kicks the bucket this way in the book, courtesy of Langdon and Vittoria. In the film, he receives a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness via car bomb instead (see below).
  • 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 does the dirty work (killing the Preferiti) for the actual mastermind behind the plan. In the film he is never explicitly called one.
  • Elemental Motifs: The theme of the four elements is used in the murders of four Catholic Cardinals and in the clues to the location of the Illuminati's meeting place.
  • Enemy Mine:
  • In the film, Vatican police officer Claudio Vincenzo who is called from a UN conference in New York to enlist Langdon's help invokes this trope, though not by name.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Kohler uses his Spy Cam to secretly record his conversation with the Camerlengo, where he exposes himself as the mastermind behind the plot. While Camerlengo manages to manipulate the situation into getting Kohler killed, Kohler still manages to get the tape to Langdon, who uses it to expose Camerlengo.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Although the Camerlengo's name is mentioned briefly, the narrative and all the characters just refer to him as the Camerlengo.
  • Exact Time to Failure: The plot revolves around the search for a bit of antimatter contained in a magnetic bottle powered by a battery that will last exactly 24 hours, complete with a countdown timer displaying the time left to the second. The person who did it even took it out of his recharge so it could explode exactly at midnight in The Vatican. Made slightly better in the film, where the countdown is replaced by a fairly realistic charge bar, not unlike one found on a cell phone.
  • Eye Scream: In the novel, the safe to get the antimatter requires retina scans, thus requiring the Hassassin to rip out Leonardo's eye to get access to his lab. Vittoria is extremely upset upon finding her father's eyes discarded in the lab. Much later, Vetra, mad as hell at being Bound and Gagged for quite a while and almost raped, shoves the "Illuminati" brand into the Hassassin's eye (complete with an "eye for an eye" one-liner, to boot).
  • Fantastic Catholicism:
    • The main plot revolves around A young priest faking an elaborate plot by The Illuminati involving antimatter to kill various cardinals who are being considered for election to Pope, to try to get himself elected pope and suppress the encroachment of science on religion.
    • Let's make this clear. As far everyone knows, the Church doesn't contract assassins. At least not today. This element isn't present in the book, surprisingly so.
  • The Film of the Book: The book was adapted into film, released in 2009. While this book both In-Universe and in real life happened before The Da Vinci Code, the film is a sequel to the The Da Vinci Code film.
  • Footsie Under the Table: Near the end of the book, Vittoria flirts with Langdon by rubbing her legs against his while they dine.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Leonardo Vetra got Vittoria interested in mathematics by telling her that girls are not allowed to study it.
  • Foreshadowing: In the film, the Hassassin suffers a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness death at the hands of a car bomb. This was also how the Camerlengo's parents were killed in his backstory, hinting he is the real mastermind.
  • Four Is Death: All four of the Preferiti die 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.
  • Funny Background Event: The guard who is trapped in the bank vault with Langdon is mentioned to be a smoker (before they become trapped, Langdon promises to buy him a packet of cigarettes if he helps with a manuscript translation). A couple of scenes later, he's seen enjoying a smoke as Langdon rushes off in pursuit of the next clue.
  • Fun with Palindromes: A variant—The Illuminati use ambigrams instead, which read the same when turned upside-down. They use them for the (original) four elements of science, plus the word "Illuminati" itself.
  • Golden Mean Fallacy: Dan Brown's strawman extremes are atheism and the Roman Catholic Church; his "middle ground" is still religious, rather than agnostic. Or science and the Catholic Church. Skepticism of Langdon's postmodernist interpretations of paganism is apparently ignorant, and the Catholic Church is apparently guilty of any irrational thing any other sect of Christianity has ever said.
  • Good Smells Good: A Papal Guard's security team is about to enter the catacombs beneath St. Peter's Basilica. The entrance to the catacombs - where the Popes of old are buried essentially making it the Holy Ground of the Vatican - is flanked by votive candles and incense burners which are loaded with Butane, making it smell nice while lethal to any trespasser. As one of the guards wryly puts it "Smells Like Heaven, Burns Like Hell."
  • Heroic Bystander: Several people see Robert in a fountain and surfacing to call for help. They join him in rescuing the fourth Preferiti by working together to pull out the weighted stretcher.
  • 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/Carlo Ventresca the new Pope for saving the Vatican city from an Antimatter bomb by flying it away to a safe distance in a helicopter.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Of the two major atheist characters in a book exploring the concept of conflict between science and religion, one is a bitter, resentful scientist who became crippled as a result of his religious fanatic parents denying him the treatment that could have prevented it, who has no sense of wonder regarding nature, the other is a brutal misogynist assassin. The former is a borderline case of research failure because a sense of wonder regarding nature is one reason many (if not most) scientists choose the career. However, to balance things out the real Big Bad is the apparently progressive camerlengo who turns out to be a crazed Knight Templar who murdered the Pope when he discovered the Pope had fathered a child. He orchestrated the entire plot with the objective of discrediting science, restoring the world's faith in religion and setting himself up as the new Pope/Messiah. It partially works, too.
  • Hollywood Tactics: In the film, the Serial Killer has just murdered several armed police officers. Two cops approach the van he might be in, guns drawn. One approaches the driver, doesn't tell him to keep his hands on the wheel, and lets him get out, even though he can't see both of the suspect's hands. The second cop goes to the other side of the van where he can't even see, much less cover, his partner. Apparently Italian Carabinieri are trained to ignore not only common sense, but basic police technique. Needless to say, the killer picks them off individually.
  • Hope Spot:
    • The third Preferito in the book, who Langdon manages to reach—but cannot save.
    • Also in the book, the fourth prefertiti, whom Langdon almost manages to save.
  • Humans Are Flawed: The book indicates that neither science or religion are evil, only the people that abuse them. The end of the film even shows that the new Pope is taking the name "Luke", as in Luke the Evangelist, who was both a doctor and an evangelist.
    Cardinal Strauss: Religion is flawed because man is flawed.
  • Idiot Ball: In the scene where the assassin has just killed half a dozen Cardinal's guards, two more walk in and he shows them a badge. They drop their guns before checking in. Additionally, Langdon doesn't think to check them.
  • Improvised Parachute: Langdon used a tarp to slow down the fall from an exploding helicopter.
  • 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.
  • It's Always Sunny at Funerals: The funeral of Pope Celestinus X is happening on a bright, sunny day. Of course, it's happening in spring in Italy, so it might just be that.
  • 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.
  • Invisible President: The deceased Pope's name and nationality are never stated, although it's pretty obvious that he was a highly-fictionalized John Paul II (Incumbent at the time of its writing). The film adaptation names him "Pius XIII", from a brief glimpse of his ring before it's destroyed.
  • Journey to the Sky: During the start of the climax, when the antimatter canister that was planted in the Vatican Necropolis is finally located, the Camerlengo quickly takes it out of its location and, once in the then-crowded St. Peter Square, mounts a helicopter with the canister at hand to fly upward as far as possible. In the book, Robert Langdon is accompanying him, and mistakenly believes that the Camerlengo tries to drop it in a lake; the real plan is to make the helicopter take the canister so high into the sky that its explosion wouldn't damage the Vatican too much. There is only one parachute in the vehicle, which the Camerlengo takes to escape (at that point, he plans to let Langdon die with the explosion because he was fearing that Langdon would find out that the whole Illuminati conspiracy was his idea all along; Langdon survives and, with the Camerlengo's betrayal fresh in his mind, eventually finds out the truth anyway). In the film adaptation, the Camerlengo drives to the sky alone, and Langdon discovers his evil plan alongside Vittoria in a different way.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Discussed, mainly in order to explain that the Vatican has a police force in addition to the Swiss Guard, in addition to which we have the (Italian) Carabinieri involved. Subsequently averted as it doesn't become much of an issue.
  • Just Plane Wrong: Robert Langdon's transatlantic flight is in a "Boeing X-33". In Real Life, the X-33 project never produced a working prototype, but even if it had done so, the X-33 was unmanned, too small to accommodate any payload at all, let-alone adequate life-support, and was built not by Boeing, but by their arch-rival Lockheed-Martin.
  • Late to the Tragedy: The novel has the heroes reaching each of the four cardinals less late each time, but too late to save them nonetheless. In the film version, Robert Langdon actually saves the fourth cardinal.
  • 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
  • Little Did I Know: When Robert Langdon hears in passing a factoid about how a reasonably small piece of cloth can significantly reduce an object's falling speed, he remarks (in narration) that he didn't then realize this information would later save his life. The payoff doesn't come 'til near the end of the book, when the reader has probably forgotten it.
  • Magical Particle Accelerator: An accelerator at CERN is used to produce enough antimatter to blow up the Vatican (CERN does really produce antimatter, but only a tiny fraction of that amount).
  • Manly Tears: In the book Langdon cries for the first time in years, after he fails to save preferito Baggia's life.
  • 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.
  • Meaningful Name: In the film, the new pope, Cardinal Baggia chooses the name Luke (Lucas), to symbolize the balance/unity between science and religion, as the evangelist Luke was a Greek doctor who converted to Christianity after meeting St Peter and Paul. It's lampshaded by Vetra.
  • 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. The Illuminati were very careful in keeping their secrets.
  • Never the Obvious Suspect: The brains behind the attack remain hidden until the novel's end, but that doesn't stop Langdon from suspecting Kohler, a vocally anti-religious scientist who helped fund the Antimatter bomb to begin with.
  • 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 Conservation of Energy: Vittoria and her father pumped out vast quantities of energy into the LHC to form antimatter, which they can then annihilate with normal matter to provide 'clean, sustainable energy for all' (instead of the bomb it inevitably becomes). It somehow never occurs to either of these highly trained scientists that they would have to put more in energy to create the antimatter than they could ever get out (though note that even In-Universe, characters seem awed by the quantities they made; it might be safe to assume they found a way past or around this problem).
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: The removal of the romantic plot between Langdon and Vittoria from the film.
  • Noodle Incident: Vittoria once disproved one of Einstein's fundamental theories by using tuna fish. This is never elaborated upon.
  • Not His Sled: In the film, just when you think Langdon won't be able to save the drowning bishop who's been weighted down in the fountain and dies in the book, a group of passers-by jump in and help lift him out of the water. Of course, the Big Bad is still the same character, and he still gets caught. But the Red Herring doesn't win the papal election as he does in the book — this honor goes to the bishop who was saved from the fountain and who was originally a frontrunner in the election, anyway.
  • 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 Camerlengo who's the Big Bad. This is 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.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Vittoria tells Langton and Kohler how her father's secret lab was impossible to be broken into as it requires her or her father's retinal scan, Langton and Kohler share a look as they both realize why Leonardo's eyes got ripped out. Vittoria realizes moments later the horrible implication when she finds an eye socket in the floor of the lab and recognizes it as her father's.
  • One-Way Trip: When the camerlengo boards the helicopter with the antimatter bomb, Langdon follows him aboard, expecting him to drop the bomb where it can explode safely (such as in a quarry, or far out to sea). Unfortunately, it turns out that the camerlengo is going nowhere except straight up — and there's only one parachute... however, as the camerlengo is the Big Bad, he jumps out with the parachute leaving Langdon to explode with the antimatter. Langdon only makes it thanks to an Improvised Parachute.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The Catholic church persecuted scientists, whom they branded before killing them. Now, the Illuminati brand each of the four Preferiti before killing them. And in general, it's mentioned in the novel that the Illuminati were much more peaceful originally, and only turned to violence as a reaction to their persecution, torture and murder, vowing to do the same to church officials.
  • Perpetual Motion Machine: Antimatter can be created at a cost of less energy than will be yielded from annihilating it.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: When Vittoria Vetra arrives in the Vatican with khaki shorts that expose her legs she's almost barred entry and is constantly told to put on something else by the conservative people in there.
  • 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 is a middle-aged, relatively out-of-shape professor who manages to fly across the Atlantic and run around all of Vatican City trying to stop murders and still manages to bring the energy to fight the Hassassin, despite having nearly suffocated earlier that same day.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Leonardo Vetri and the Pope. Without the former, neither would the Antimatter plot be in the film, nor the whole science versus religion thing ( he's both a scientist and bishop), nor Vittoria, who comes not only to find the Antimatter but also to avenge his death by killing the Hassassin. Without the latter, there would be no papal conclave, no calling of all cardinals and Prefereti whom the Hassassin kidnaps and murders to the Vatican, and the Camerlengo wouldn't find a way to restore people's faith in religion, which he did by blaming science for corrupting the Pope. The two characters are later revealed to have extensive contacts regarding science and religion sometime before the events of the film, and their agreement was what caused the Camerlengo to become scandalized and kill them.
  • 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 lair, 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.
  • Race Against the Clock: Langton and Vittoria must recover the Antimatter canister before the bad guys make use of it.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In the film, Commandant Maximilian Richter gives a variant to Langdon as a retort when he decides to return to the Vatican instead of giving Langdon another chance (Langdon has just made a mistake and taken them to the Pantheon instead of the actual starting point of the Path of Illumination).
    Langdon: Commandante, if you care at all about your church-
    Richter: My church? My church feeds the hungry, comforts the sick and dying. What does your church do, Professor? (no answer) Ah, that's right. You haven't one.
  • Relocating the Explosion: The Big Bad flies an anti-matter bomb away from Rome in a helicopter. He survives, just as planned.
  • Rescue Reversal: After Vittoria is kidnapped by the Hassassin, Langdon manages to arrive just in time to stop her from being raped and tortured. But while Langdon himself is no match for the Hassassin, it gives Vittoria the chance to free herself so she can rescue him in turn.
  • 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.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: The Illuminati are a secret society so secret that they managed to convince the world for 400 years that they didn't exist anymore. They also deeply infiltrated important positions in society, with even a few American presidents being noted to be one of them. Though it's subverted when you find out their continuing existence was only faked by the Big Bad.
  • Self-Immolation: The camerlengo commits suicide this way after his scheme is found out.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: The novel ends with Vittoria pushing Langton into the bed and taking off her robe as she brags about her prowess in bed.
    Vittoria: You've never been to bed with a yoga master, have you?
  • 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 Preferito, who dies by way of water in the book, is saved by Langdon in the movie.
  • 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.
  • Technobabble: Of particular note is the fact that the batteries powering the Antimatter containers require charger circuits including servo-coilsnote , and that the Assassin masks his mobile phone signal using "splayed ferreting"note .
  • Theme Serial Killer: The Hassassin used the classic 4 elements as a theme to his murders... and for the locations. Earth, Fire and Water were easy; Air took a little creativity. He punctured the victim's lungs.
  • 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.
  • Treachery Cover Up: The Council of Cardinals and Professor Langdon decides it best to keep The Reveal of the Big Bad's plan private. The Camerlengo's plot may have been evil, but it raised interest in religion and history, which they all deem more important than the truth. While Camerlengo immolated himself due to guilt over his misdeeds, his official cause of death is that he died of injuries due to crash-landing on the ground.
  • Truth in Television: You could be forgiven for thinking that a Christian sect that rejects any and all medical science in favor of prayer is a Straw Man used to justify a character. Unfortunately, it's a real-life sect called Christian Science.
  • 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."
    • One by Kohler, revealing the actual true villain of the novel.
    Kohler: No! It troubles me that Leonardo Vetra practically proved the existence of your God, and younote  had him murdered!
  • Wall of Weapons: The Swiss Guard has a big armoury of lots of different weapon, ranging from modern to medieval.
  • 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.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math:
    • Langdon is awake at 5.30am U.S. East Coast Time, and goes to Italy, which is 6 hours ahead, so 11.30am there. Later, when it's almost 9pm European time, he mentions he's been awake for 6 hours. That should have been 9 hours.
    • Also, a flight from Boston to Rome takes 8 hours. If we say he gets to Boston Logan Airport at 6am, he'd be arriving in Rome at 8pm, just in time for the first Cardinal's murder.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: The Dragon manages to kill all four of the Preferiti before the plan is stopped. Subverted in the film, where Langdon saves the fourth from his watery death. 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 kept the cardinals from 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