INFERNO (USA | Japan | Turkey | Hungary/15A/121mins)
Directed by Ron Howard. Starring Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, Sidse Babett Knudsen
THE PLOT: When Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) wakes up in a Florence hospital with no memory of how he got there, he probably thinks his day could not get any worse… Then someone starts shooting at him. Enlisting the help of ER doctor Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), Langdon sets out on an adventure across Italy and beyond to find out what happened on the days he can’t remember, and why everyone seems to be out to kill him.
THE VERDICT: Based on the novel of the same name by Dan Brown, ‘Inferno’ is Robert Langdon’s third outing on the big screen; reuniting Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard for this new adventure. With a feel of Indiana Jones and James Bond rolled into one, ‘Inferno’ promises to be a thrill ride, but it just ends up feeling a little silly.
It is hard not to love Tom Hanks – his turn in Carly Rae Jepsen’s video for ‘I Really Like You’ was a particular high point – but Inferno wastes Hanks’ considerable talents. Hanks manages to make Langdon likeable – even though we learn little about the character other than he lost his Mickey Mouse watch and he likes puzzles – and his knowledge of Florentine anterooms seems a little unlikely. Felicity Jones does fine as Sienna Brooke; it feels as though the actress is getting her action movie on in preparation for Rogue One later this year, but she does well with the little she has. The rest of the cast features Ben Foster, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan and Sidse Babett Knudsen round out the cast.
David Koepp adapted Dan Brown’s novel for the big screen, and although each of Robert Langdon’s other cinematic outings were rather silly, they had a grounding in religion and art for the most part. ‘Inferno’ struggles with an even sillier plot than the films that have gone before, and a feel that the entire film was inspired by telenovellas, James Bond and Indiana Jones, while being a watered down version of each. There is enough mystery to keep the audience going, for the most part, but the twists and turns are obvious and the sense of gleeful joy that made Indiana Jones – a very similar character to Robert Langdon – so much fun, is missing here. As well as this, Brown’s novels were at there most popular over a decade ago, and it is obvious that this wane in popularity has led to a lacklustre story.
Ron Howard does fine as director, but he never manages to make ‘Inferno’ properly exciting, or give us any character development at all. The pacing is a struggle for much of the movie, as is the tangled storyline of crosses and double crosses that Howard never manages to clear up fully.
In all, ‘Inferno’ is, for want of a better term, a hot mess. Robert Langdon has gone from professor to super spy, and everything in the film either feels convenient or too convoluted for it to be fully satisfying. Add to this a patronising tone and a waste of Tom Hanks, and ‘Inferno’ burns out before it begins.
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    Following on from The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, Inferno continues the adventures of Dan Brown’s character Robert Langdon. A mash-up of Indiana Jones, Lara Croft and James Bond, the symbologist and religious iconography expert finds himself facing another disaster of epic proportions.

    The following is not a spoiler, since it’s in the trailer and the opening sequence. In Florence, billionaire with a vision Bertrand (Ben Foster) is pursued by a group of men. He’s cornered but then throws himself off a tower to his death. Why did he kill himself? Robert (Tom Hanks) is in bad shape too. He wakes up injured and with amnesia in a Florence hospital, looked after by Doctor Sienna (Felicity Jones). She helps him remember the events of the last few days. He discovers a small metal biohazard tube in his pocket. Cautiously opening it, he discovers a projected painting of Dante’s vision of hell by Alessandro Botticelli. Bertrand has left some clues for Robert, a trail of breadcrumbs leading to Bertrand’s master plan: kill half the population of the world via a deadly virus in order to save the world from enormous overpopulation in the near future. Robert and Sienna head off to discover where and when the virus will be released, but find themselves pursued by assassins, police and a shadowy private security firm run by The Provost (Irrfan Khan)….

    Returning director Ron Howard has skipped over the third book in the series, The Lost Symbol, and moved on to the fourth, Inferno. Maybe not such a wise decision. It’s been 7 years since Angels & Demons, but there’s a whiff of deja vu about Inferno. It’s another race-against-time plot involving a viral threat against the world that only Robert Langdon can solve. At this rate, Hanks should be in the running for the next James Bond – given all the world-saving he’s doing. Inferno is just too similar to Angels & Demons, but it also feels like a lesser film. The law of diminishing returns strikes again. Except this time the odds are stacked against the film.

    David Koepp’s script never really takes off. It’s loaded with clangers, like a third act character reversal which might require a second viewing to make it even remotely credible. It’s like having the rug pulled from under you and doesn’t convince. There are a number of periphery characters who make the plot unnecessarily convoluted too. Just who is trying to kill who? Hanks is merely going through the motions here, but he still manages to hold the screen. However, why cast an excellent Method actor like Foster and barely use him though? That’s a criminal waste of his talent. The film isn’t a criminal waste of time though. It manages to be moderately entertaining and watchable, but it never rises above passable. That’s enough of Professor Langdon for now. Surely Howard has more interesting films to make? **