Inferno: Film Review
Cast: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster, Omar Sy, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Irrfan Khan
Director: Ron Howard
The fourth Robert Langdon book heads to the screen courtesy of Dan Brown's paranoia and Ron Howard's direction.
With Hanks once again reprising his role for a third time as Professor Langdon, it's a tale of amnesia, over-population concerns and a good old fashioned chase movie.
As the film starts, Langdon wakes in a hospital bed where a doctor Sienna (Felicity Jones) tells him he's been shot and has a head wound caused by a bullet grazing him.
Unable to work out what's going on, Langdon, along with Sienna (who turns out to be a fan of his) is on the run amid concerns a global virus is about to be unleashed thanks to a genius called Zobrist (Ben Foster).
With time against them, and a series of chasers closing in, can Langdon solve the puzzle and save the day?
If ever a film was so jammed with conspiratorial edges and paranoia, as well as po-faced portentous dialogue such as "Humanity is inhuman" and "The sixth extinction will be our own", Inferno is that film.
With allusions to Dante's Divine Comedy and inferno, black death imagery, hellish sights given life on the streets via Langdon's visions, flashes of kidnapping, the film's so chock full of stuff happening that it merely disguises the fact there's little going on beneath the surface.
It starts at breakneck speed under Howard's guidance and doesn't really let up or give you the chance to breathe and allow for the contrivances to be accepted as it hurtles through Europe and Italian streets and landmarks.
Hanks is solid as Langdon and Jones is intelligent as his acolyte aide (it's like Doctor Who given a new assistant each time these films come out as Langdon receives a new pretty exposition partner), but there's never really much of a vibe between the pair of them to propel the film through.
Far more successful is Hanks' pairing with Westworld's Babse Knudsen towards the end of the film. As the film slows and the pace drops, the scenes between the two of them develop a lilting humanity and bittersweet edge, lifting proceedings from what is a fairly ludicrous chase movie throughout. Equally welcome, though narratively brief is Khan's shadowy leader, who adds humour to the proceedings that grow increasingly dour and border on the stiffly dull.
With its schlocky edges and predictable twists and turns, it feels like it's a few years too late on the scene and while the book diverges from its own ending to something more sanitary and audience pleasing, it feels like it has no courage of its convictions.
Inferno is the cinematic equivalent of a pulpy paranoiac, writ large; an airport thriller riddled with holes and pretensions, perfect for a journey but forgotten the moment of touchdown.
In many ways, thanks to its dullness, it's the cinematic equivalent of Purgatory.