There are few items to takeaway from “Inferno.” Dante’s work is an interesting study. The overpopulation of Earth is troubling. Italy sure is pretty.
Other than those things, “Inferno” is a laughable “thriller” so bereft of anything remotely entertaining that it’s hard to believe director Ron Howard and star Tom Hanks would have anything to do with it. Sequels usually suffer from diminishing returns, which only makes this third follow up to the now 10 years old “The Da Vinci Code” that much more insufferable.
Hanks returns as Robert Langdon, the symbology professor and hero of Don Brown’s novels. This time around, he wakes up in Florence, Italy while suffering from amnesia brought on by an unknown trauma. Perhaps he went to a midnight back-to-back showing of the two previous movies.
Langdon quickly finds himself embroiled in yet another conspiracy. This time around, he gets to use the works of Dante to hunt down a chemical weapon designed to thin out the world’s population. This dastardly scheme was devised by Bernard Zobrist (Ben Foster), who leaps to his death approximately five minutes into the film.
Langdon is inexplicably aided by Dr. Siena Brooks (Felicity Jones), the emergency room doctor who helps him escape from the hospital after an early attempt on his life. The two of them then spend the next 90 minutes running from a World Health Organization flunkie, Bouchard (Omar Sy), while traversing the gorgeous Italian countryside and studying various works of art. It’s like a museum tour but with random folks shooting at you.
The “relationship” that screenwriter David Koepp comes up with for Langdon and WHO head Elizabeth Sinsky (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is laughable. Langdon and Sinsky bounce long lost love talk off each other like two 19 year olds reliving their high school crush. It’s flat out cringe worthy and a contender for the Most Clumsily Written Narrative of 2016.
If Howard and Koepp threw out this entire mess of a story and focused on Irrfan Khan’s Harry “The Provost” Sims, “Inferno” may actually be worth watching. Khan is clearly having a blast playing this mysterious and undeniably cool behind the scenes mover and shaker. This actor never ceases to do more with less and he almost gets the entire movie back on course on his own.
Felicity Jones and Ben Foster are wasted, with the former getting the worst treatment and the latter only showing up in ridiculously conceived flashbacks. For an actress as good as Jones, she spends all of “Inferno” with a blank expression on her face. Foster rants and raves about global extinction via YouTube clips but comes off as a deranged self-help guru instead of global terrorist.
Tom Hanks is one of the finest actors of all time, but not even he can perform miracles. Other than a few clever zingers, Hanks is forced to do nothing but deliver art history lessons via monologue. This is naturally followed up by running from authorities and killers which for a Harvard professor, he does quite well.
“Inferno” calls into question whether Ron Howard is truly invested in this movie franchise. This is the type of tale that requires creativity and resourcefulness from the director’s chair and other than some gorgeous aerial views, it’s extremely lacking. This movie could have used the efforts of a young director trying to make a name for themselves instead of an established one simply going through the motions.
“Inferno” is the movie equivalent of clicking “Control+C” on your keyboard. There’s some new characters and different locales, but it’s an exact replica of the first two Dan Brown film adaptations.
But Italy sure is pretty.