Movie Review: Inferno
Inferno is the 3rd film in the Robert Langdon series of books written by Dan Brown. The movie stars Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon as he chases down shadowy figures who are trying to unleash a worldwide plague. Moviegoers would be pleased to note that The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons are not required viewing to understand the plot points of Inferno. However, they may want to watch to get a feel for Hank’s character.
The movie opens up as Langdon awakes in a hospital with amnesia and having dreams of an apocalyptic nature. Sienna Brooks, (Felicity Jones) a doctor and longtime fan of his work, advises that his trauma was caused by a gunshot and tries to jog his memories to help him understand his situation. Meanwhile, during an earlier event, Bertrand Zobrist,(Ben Foster) a geneticist, is being pursued by a shadowy group of men who want information on obtaining a device dubbed “Inferno”. Zobrist dies in the process but leaves valuable clues behind on how to find and activate Inferno. As Langdon is trying to piece together what has transpired, he and Brooks are attacked by an assassin but they manage to give them the slip. Langdon later finds clues that may lead him to understand what Zobrist is up to and how it relates to Dante’s Inferno. He and Brooks set out to find Inferno while different forces trail in their wake seeking the device as well.
This movie, while a mixed bag of entertainment, is definitely not on par with The Da Vinci Code. It somewhat requires a little bit of intelligence from viewers to understand something about Dante’s Inferno and what it means in relation to the Inferno device. That being said however, another issue with the series and this movie in particular is how Robert Langdon is almost the direct opposite of James Bond. He has no swagger, he’s not really a fighter, but he is very smart and that works for him here. A lot of Langdon’s survival through most of these films is by pure luck and timing. At the beginning of the film, it was intriguing to see him start off in his situation because unlike most movies, the forces moving against his character always seem to have the one up while in this case, Langdon and Brooks seem to be frantically trying to stay ½ a step ahead. Midway through the film, as Langdon hits his stride, viewers will note how smart he is. If I had a complaint about the frantic action in this movie is that it seemed like Ron Howard, who directed this film, relied too much on “the conveniently found back or side door that’s not being used” to get Langdon and Brooks out of sticky situations. At one point though, one of Langdon’s pursuers did eventually deduce that Langdon had a knack for getting in and out of buildings unseen and smartly started covering some of those exits.
One big plus is that there are enough twists and turns in the story to keep audiences interested but there were too many times where the swerves may have been enough to derail the story. Also depending on if you like these types of movies, the pace never seems to slow down but feeds viewers a steady drip of information and clues albeit overwhelming at times. At some points just as you start to process the clues, the movie immediately whisks you off again to the next set piece. Sometimes it feels like Inferno is trying too hard to be a poor man’s Bond movie with all of the mystery and globe-trotting to exotic locales. Also what muddies the waters are the factions that pop up vying for the Inferno device which may make some viewers want to keep a scorecard of the characters chasing down Langdon. As a fair warning, do not get too attached to anyone as motives and allegiances change frequently and quickly.
Overall, Inferno is an entertaining movie that stays a bit grounded in reality but occasionally skirts the edge of losing credibility. Watching this makes me thankful however that this series hasn’t devolved to the level of National Treasure’s silliness. The plot just barely hangs on and may still leave the audience asking a few questions near the end. If you like a good mystery but without the violence some thrillers have, this may be for you.
3 Levels of Hell out of 5.