‘Inferno’ Is Another Shallow Romp Through Italian History

If I were either Tom Hanks or Ron Howard I would continue making Langdon films and traveling around Europe on a production company’s budget, too.

Inferno is the latest Ron Howard-directed installment of Dan Brown’s book series (a la The Da Vinci Code) revolving around the exploits of Robert Langdon, played by Tom Hanks.

The film begins with Langdon waking up in a hospital in Florence, Italy, with a head injury and an extremely inconvenient memory loss. Moments later an assassin tries to murder him, but he escapes with the help of his doctor (Felicity Jones) who takes him to her apartment where they quickly realize that he is a very wanted man by police and governmental agents.

The only hint to his predicament is a pocket-sized projector that displays a clue-infused image of Botticelli’s Map of Hell, which is of course based on Dante’s Inferno.

In typical Dan Brown fashion, the clues lead to a heinous plot, this one orchestrated by billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) who wants to release a biological plague in order to save humanity from what he thinks is its impending doom vis-à-vis our out of control population growth.

The ensuing drama is paced and edited well, and the story line is peppered with sudden plot twists that make it difficult to tell who is on whose side and which side has humanity’s interest at heart. It’s as frustrating for the audience as it is for Langdon, though it moves quick enough to remain entertaining.

As usual with Robert Langdon films, the locations are beautiful via the borrowed production value of European architecture, and the film’s historical emphasis is as fun as ever. Langdon films are like James Bond flicks for history nerds, and if I were either Tom Hanks or Ron Howard I would continue making them and traveling around Europe on a production company’s budget, too. Luckily for our protagonists, Italy apparently never locks any doors to its most treasured landmarks.

World-saving drama and plot twists aside, Inferno follows its predecessors with underdeveloped, shallow characterization. Zobrist is a bland mastermind with the TED Talks schtick of a tech-capitalist, and there is very little time to get to know the film’s good guys and girls when the majority of the world’s population is in immediate danger.

If you’ve seen the previous Dan Brown films, Langdon’s scavenger hunt for clues from one Italian tourist spot to another might be a little formulaic and stale, but it’s still mindless entertainment… literally, because Zobrist’s skim doomsday plan makes very little sense if you think about it.

Contemptor grade: 7/10

Photo courtesy of Imagine Entertainment and LStar Capital.

Cole Figus has a BFA degree in acting, and has experience in film and theatre both in the performing and technical arts.
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