Directed by Ron Howard.
Starring Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, Ben Foster, and Ana Ularu.
When Robert Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks, and together they must race across Europe against the clock to foil a deadly global plot.
Director Ron Howard is entering somewhat of a lull lately, churning out mediocre movies where the only saving grace is reliable acting from some major Hollywood stars. Inferno (the latest adaptation of the novels by Dan Brown) is no exception to his recent negative trend, showcasing Tom Hanks doing his damnedest to make the absolute ridiculousness of the plot on display here, at the very least, come across as entertaining, or so bad it’s good.
Realistically, Inferno is just a hot mess.
The central premise is actually quite fascinating; it’s a mystery puzzle involving intricate details surrounding Dante’s idolized artistic depiction of hell, The Divine Comedy, and aspects of his life. Except most of the dialogue is way too complex and complicated for anyone to understand, which will just leave audiences scratching their head on what it is super professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and his new friend played by Felicity Jones are trying to accomplish. The amnesia plot device the movie utilizes is also interesting, until all of the ridiculous twists start kicking in leaving people baffled at how anyone could think this is good screenwriting.
There are also opportunities for the cast and crew to travel all across Italy in an effort to give the audience some beautiful landscapes and historically revered architecture to take a gander at, except even that is squandered by amateurish cinematography that is constantly fixated on zooming into character’s faces, often obscuring the aforementioned beautiful locales. The only nice shot in the entire movie is an admittedly exciting underwater fight that takes place during the film’s climax.
Inferno also has some really whacked out pacing that often feels like it is moving far too slow or too fast to comprehend anything. The entire first 30 minutes of the movie takes place in both a hospital room and an apartment building, both of which containing information that feels as if it could have been summarized in about half the time. Maybe the writers think they are smarter than the average person by having Tom Hanks ramble on and on for 10 minutes about a map of hell, hidden anagrams, and more.
There are also far too many characters, which naturally results in being unable to care about the majority of them. The one thing they all seem to have in common is that they are after Robert Langdon, who is caught up in a conspiracy regarding a black plague and the potential end of the world. One character will be immediately suspected as a traitor, which I still haven’t decided if it is good or not; on one hand it was predictable, but it actually makes sense which is more than I can say for much else in the movie. There’s also a female assassin style character that you would think would play a larger role in the movie… before unceremoniously dying not even halfway through the film. Once again, we have too many characters, with no one to give a crap about besides Tom Hanks, because well, he’s Tom Hanks.
I don’t want to come across overly harsh on Inferno however, because I do admire all of the intricate details and little things Dan Brown puts into the novels. The problem isn’t the stories themselves, but the screenwriting and direction adapting them into feature films that rushes the holy hell out of every plot point to the point where it all is just ludicrous. Seriously, when they explain the reasoning behind Robert Langdon’s amnesia, it’s hard not to just want to give up and walk out of the theater right then and there.
I am not an alcoholic but Ron Howard might be getting me there pretty soon. Inferno can’t even work as a fun functioning history lesson because the pacing is so all over the place and rushed that once again, it’s difficult to comprehend and soak in the puzzle and what the characters are doing to solve it. There is one fairly engaging action sequence toward the end, a fitting score by Hans Zimmer, and decent acting. The only other positive is the pure laughter that comes from laughing at how crazy Ben Foster’s doomsday plan is. He certainly does unhinged well, and should play more over-the-top villains.
Unfortunately, Inferno itself is not over-the-top in a fun way, it’s just dull and a waste of two hours.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★