Written by: David Koepp, based on a novel by Dan Brown
Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones
Running Time: 2h 1m
Better than the book [while that’s no high praise], here’s the complete Inferno review:
Based on Dan Brown’s book of the same name, Inferno follows Harvard Symbologist Robert Langdon through Italy, as he uses his knowledge of art history and Dante’s Divine Comedy, to stop a deadly global epidemic.
Lacking the Brain & the Original Brown
At the open, we find Professor Robert Langdon in a hospital in Florence, waking up with a head wound, blurry visions of hell, disorientated, without any memory of the last two days. He meets a doughy-eyed female doctor, Sienna Brooks, who proceeds to save him from a police officer shooting at him.
Langdon soon finds that he’s in possession of the first clue that will lead to a bioweapon designed by millionaire Bertrand Zobrist. The bioweapon is a solution to overpopulation and human extinction, which will be exposed at a set time.
The imminent threat is dramatized for emotional appeal – instead of an epidemic that sterilizes half the population of the earth, as it is in the book, Zobrist’s plague is designed to infect 95% of the earth’s population [where most will die].
Using sprinkles of Botticelli and Dante, Langdon and Brooks then run through scenic routes to halt this calamity using infantile clues, while an assassin and the World Health Organization chase them.
To discuss the movie, one needs to first address the source: the book. In the world of apocalyptic thriller templates, Inferno was, by far, the most predictable in the series of Langdon adventures. What we found delightful in the Da Vinci Code lost its charm upon repetition in Inferno:
Time is ticking, there’s an assassin trying to take his life, a secret organization is involved, Langdon has to emerge a hero by solving a puzzle with a clever female companion, and of course, someone you trust can’t be trusted.
While it’s brimming with adrenaline, Inferno calls outs for the clever clues and a plot closely woven with art history that is abound in Brown’s first book.
The plot, like in the book, weakens as the movie runs along, revealing the feeble foundations on which Brown based the premise. It doesn’t help to take on a subject so enormous in scale, like over-population and the threat of human extinction, and wrap it around a tired old frame.
The third adaptation by Ron Howard, the film strays, which in this case, might be a good thing. Fast-paced and compact, the plot proves better-suited to the screen that it ever was on paper. Wider in its appeal and dumber in its soul, as far as the film series goes, Inferno may be Howard’s best attempt yet at creating a watchable film.
Those who’ve crooned over Langdon’s knowledge of symbols, art and history, however, will be slightly disappointed to find all that charm missing.
Fast, Furious, Cohesive
We give Howard and the team a 6/10 for the edited shots in the beginning of the film, capturing Langdon’s disorientation, visions and confusion. That’s about it.
The soundtrack was updated yet familiar, nudging those who sat at the edge of their seats in anticipation for Da Vinci Code years ago [with expectations eventually thwarted]. All in all, it complimented the pace of screenplay well.
Tom Brought Langdon Along
It’s Tom Hanks, you know? You don’t go wrong with the man, even if you try. Given the lack of depth around Langdon’s character and his unspeakable aridity, he did the best job he could to tug at the ol’ heartstrings.
Felicity Jones as Sienna Brooks captures innocence, deviance and idealism well. Ben Foster as the brilliant and convoluted genius, Bertrand Zobrist, was fitting since you expect a man that charismatic to have followers who are willing to murder.
The one to watch, however, is Irrfan Khan, as the head of The Consortium, who delivers sarcastic, dry humor with an expert hand, however poorly written it may have been.
All in All
A decent thriller to watch over the weekend, but if you’re looking for the sensible, smart Da Vinci Code [book] charm, it’s a lost cause.
Watch it if you’re: in the mood for a speedy thriller.
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