Friday, October 28, 2016 6:45 am ·  0 Comments
Sometime decades ago, an unknown executive in Hollywood decided to become a trendsetter by suddenly thinking all books would make excellent movies, and that trend continues today. Some are quite good. Most are forgettable. And others are bad. But for Inferno – based on Dan Brown’s best selling novel? Bad would be high praise.
This is the third (and hopefully final) film in director Ron Howard’s Robert Langdon trilogy. You may be more familiar with the original in the series, The Da Vinci Code, or even it’s sequel Angels & Demons. It’s the same movie for the third time.
But the second film was almost nine years ago, and public interest was low even back then. Audience scores and box office receipts have been steadily less for all Dan Brown films in the last ten years; and it seems strange there are any executives at Sony who think the audience is craving another high brow (?) mystery romp through Europe.
“Disappointing” seems inaccurate to say, because it doesn’t quite hit home the banality. “Unextraordinary” isn’t quite right either. The main emotional response to most of the action in the movie was sadness. I was sad because an thrilling source material and talented artists should be making something better than this. Instead? It’s a bore.
Poor Tom Hanks, brilliant as always, knows how forgettable and expendable Inferno is. He’s comfortable as Professor Robert Langdon, returning to the character again, though he’s the only one from the first two movies. Hanks is acting like he’s expecting the same result as Code and Demons, and feels somewhat guilty the audience is even watching this.
Even other smart, talented actors, are being directed to look half-asleep most of the time. Felicity Jones keeps the same expression during the whole story. Omar Sy is never urgent about any of the cat-and-mouse chasing that takes place. Worst of all, Irrfan Khan looks bored out of his skull.
They don’t even get close to the morality of the story, discussing the ethics of population control and humanity’s sustainability. It’s mentioned once, and then instead of exploring the central question, it’s ignored completely in lieu of many shots of people running around.
It’s simmered for two hours as both sides tried to find a deadly virus located somewhere in Italian art museums. Supposedly, some guys want to release a virus to start a new plague, therefore “curing” overpopulation. The others are, well, trying to stop them. It mostly amounts to predictable plot twists of each character revealing which side they are really on. It’s always obvious, and never entertaining.
Even the opening sequence, easily the most action-packed and intense, finds a way of being annoying instead of exciting. The drunk camera shots and way-too-loud sound editing are unpleasant to watch and hear. It’s very off-putting, and never improves from there.
It’s not the worst film made, nor even this year. It’s also a long way from entertaining, and nowhere near worth recommending. It’s time to let the Dan Brown series die, and Inferno fade into obscurity. There are a few redeeming qualities of sharp humour and interesting villains (like Ian McKellen way back in Da Vinci Code).
Ron Howard can do much better than this. It’s nothing short of lazy when two major characters and the ending from the novel are re-written resulting in a weaker story, worse off because Inferno is actually the fourth book despite being the third film.
But please. To whoever might be tempted to go back and make The Lost Symbol into a movie – don’t. We’ve had enough. It doesn’t take Robert Langdon to solve that.
1 out of 4 Stars
14A, 122 minutes, Crime Mystery.
Directed by Ron Howard.
Starring Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, Ben Foster.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill, and Cineplex Oakville & VIP.