Cocktails and Movies Review: “Inferno” – A Hell Of A Letdown

by Mike Reyes

Perhaps the year’s greatest disappointment since Jason BourneInferno has one really good set-piece, some excellent performances, and no substantial film to prop them up with.

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I remember when The DaVinci Code became the literary success of the year back in 2003, which was an event practically begging for two things to happen: for me to read the book, and for Hollywood to eventually make a movie. Both happened, and to a great extent, as The DaVinci Code and its literary predecessor Angels and Demons, were both excellent literary experiences that translated to equally good films. And yet, when I returned to read The Lost Symbol, I was so disenchanted with the series that I not only wanted the film to never exist, I didn’t even want to return to the world that I had once loved. Unfortunately I did, hoping that Inferno would impress, despite my not having completed the book before my screening. Sadly, I think I’ve grown out of this series, as this movie is a damned mess.

Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is pretty banged up, as  he wakes up in a hospital with retrograde amnesia, a bullet grazing wound, and no memory of ever setting foot in Italy. With the assistance of Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones,) Professor Langdon will once again traverse several countries and famous landmarks to decode a puzzle. Only this time, the fate of the human race is at stake, as a madman (Ben Foster) has hidden the location of a deadly plague at the end of this riddle-laden path.

I really, REALLY wanted to like Inferno, as Ron Howard’s films are often underrated, and Tom Hanks is always a pleasure to watch on screen. Sadly, the story behind their most recent collaboration was so poorly constructed, not even their golden gifts could turn it into a film that I actually began to care for. Between the ridiculously underdeveloped plot twist, and the romance that Langdon has now been shoehorned into, in order to give our normally chaste hero of academia someone age appropriate to be pair with, Inferno shows that the puzzle-solving game that Dan Brown once made exciting has become boring.

Going into one of the Robert Langdon books, you know it’s going to be a clue hunt, with a lot of historical background and personal stories of the characters involved. Yet every time one of these movies gets made, the historical background from the book is streamlined, and a lot of the personal characteristics of the story tend to be watered down and/or omitted. While I can’t speak to how diluted Inferno truly is, I can say that Felicity Jones’ character is altered from the original text, with her mentor figure and her bald condition being dropped for a more Hollywood film.1-on6cciokcfnyz05ntoe5iq

What makes each of these books unique are touches like Langdon’s explanations or the exciting twists a character has in their person, but when you need to dump aspects such as those to make a film, it turns things into a more formula driven affair. Thankfully, the casting of Jones and Foster, as well as character actors Omar Sy, Irfan Khan and Sidse Babett Knudsen all help Inferno from being a total waste. While this is Tom Hanks’ series, having an extremely talented cast helps lend some much needed life to an almost lifeless film with a dangerous message hidden in its contents that’ll appeal to its core demographic. Mild spoiler clue: It’s your kids, Marty. Something’s gotta be done about your kids.

Inferno is the death throes of a franchise that was once thrilling. The most exciting part of the whole film is the final showdown between Langdon and the forces of good versus the extremists trying to bring about the end of the world. With some really tight pacing, a nail biting conclusion, and some top flight scoring by Hans Zimmer, this set-piece shows what it could have been if it remembered to be more exciting. Hollywood, please stop making Robert Langdon films. Dan Brown, please finish this series off with Origin, and either rethink your series, or find a new gimmick. I shouldn’t have to sit through a film of mind dulling boredom to find a morsel of excitement.

My Rating: 2 / 5