Friday, November 4

Inferno Review

Dir: Ron Howard
Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, Sidse Babett Knudsen, and Ben Foster

The third film in the Robert Langdon story, the primary character from Dan Brown's best selling novels that started with "The Da Vinci Code", finds the professor in the middle of another conspiracy involving ancient artifacts and famous works of art. At the helm again is director Ron Howard and star Tom Hanks, a duo that have worked well together ever since "Splash" in 1984. "Inferno" tries its very best to drop the viewer into a thrilling and complex adventure but unfortunately fails to build any sort intrigue and ultimately develops into a clueless mystery.

A billionaire (Ben Foster) with extreme viewpoints about the world warns that humanity is leading to the destruction of the Earth. Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is attacked and rendered unconscious, he awakens in a hospital with signs of amnesia. A young doctor named Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) is treating Robert however he can't remember how he was hurt, he is also having horrific memories of disfigured and infected people, rivers of blood, and fire destroying everything. Robert teams up with the young doctor to find out why people are trying to kill him and why he has been made a pawn in a plan to release a deadly virus.

By the third film in any franchise, the viewer knows how everything in the film operates. Robert Langdon is like Indiana Jones without the charisma or the bull whip, they both have a love for history and the world is always on the brink of destruction. "Inferno" paints this destruction very clear, even showing the world through Robert's visions as a sort of environment only a horror movie could create. Instead of wasting time reintroducing Langdon the film instead jumps this step and plunges the protagonist right into the primary plot of the story. Going against the typical narrative structure established by the two previous films was a nice change, the Langdon character works best when he is figuring out puzzles on the move anyway.

All the films based on Dan Brown's novels have simplified the material, to the point of taking out most of the mystery that is constructed within the pages of the novel. This is painfully obvious with "Inferno". It's hard to even call it a mystery at times because everything that is meant to be figured out by the viewer is highlighted with a light change or by zooming the camera in on the clue, it may have been easier to have blinking arrows and flashing text that says "look here". This continues unfortunately as characters will often repeat the clues right after showing them or discuss plot transitions; the many filmmaking techniques that are available to tell this kind of story are rarely utilized. While the film stays fairly faithful to the book (to go into detail about what was changed poses too much a spoiler), there is obviously something that was lost in the film interpretation.

"Inferno" is filled with a great cast that is disappointingly utilized. Tom Hanks has done well with this character in the past but there is unfortunately not much for him to do with the character here except react and run. The same goes for the talented Felicity Jones whose character plays partner to Langdon. Ben Foster's character has a fantastic Bond villain name, Bertrand Zobrist, but is only given a few moments of screen time to be the bad guy though he is given one good monologue. Irrfan Kahn, from "Life of Pi", seems to be having the best time as a mysterious character directly connected to the devious plot.

"Inferno" doesn't end the Robert Langdon trilogy on a high note, which is unfortunate because the novel had great potential. Although it should be noted that each film in the franchise never fully reached the potential of the novels, sometimes the experience created in a book just can't be matched even with a talented director and a great cast.

Monte's Rating
2.00 out of 5.00

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