UK Release Date: 14th October 2016
Runtime: 121 minutes
Director: Ron Howard
Writer: David Koepp
Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy
Synopsis: Suffering from amnesia, Robert Langdon must follow the trail set by a dead scientist who came up with a brutal solution to the problem with overpopulation on Earth.
With this summer’s Jason Bourne proving as much a hit with critics and the box office as you would expect a late sequel to an action franchise starring a mid-40s Matt Damon to be, us cinemagoers are left without a natural heir to the shaky cam, memory-lapsing grit of the mid-noughties. Luckily Inferno, or as I preferred to call it after the first nauseating 20 minutes, The Langdon Identity, is here to prove to us you can try and be anything you want to be. You just shouldn’t.
Running in on the heels of its predecessors, Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code, the latest ‘Tom Hanks paces with attractive white woman half his age’ movie sees our hero Robert Langdon try to stop the release of a deadly virus that would kill half of the world’s population. The path to this is set out in a series of coded references to Dante’s Inferno, laid out by a genocidal billionaire biologist (Ben Foster), who believes over-population is going to end us all.
The flaws with other adaptations of Dan Brown’s work are that they manage to take books packed with interesting things told very quickly and make them boring. Ron Howard, directing his third Dan Brown adaptation, is petrified you might learn something. If Langdon isn’t being struck with hellish night visions, he’s having flashbacks to the weekend that just passed, from which he has lost his memories. Breaking the code, understanding the motives of the would-be mass murderer and building character are all enemies to Howard’s vision of a fast-paced action thriller, set in several of Italy’s numerous museums.
The problem is that this leaves the audience without a connection to the plot or characters. I read the books for the previous two adaptations but not this one, and it feels like the actual plot is treated as a mere inconvenience that gets in the way of the running and flashbacks. It discusses its clues with such disdain you have no idea how the code is being broken, at which point you have to ask – what is this movie for?
I concede that Tom Hanks staring at a painting in a museum doesn’t make for great pictures in a thriller movie, but it is vital to the progression of the plot. Puncturing this scene with endless cuts, shaky camera and a few flashbacks doesn’t help anybody – least of all the viewer who is unsure about whether to feel nauseous or just confused. The sad result is that it’s probably both.
The structure of Inferno similar to that of the other movies. Langdon gets a task, then brings along a plucky female sidekick – this time it’s Felicity Jones, who isn’t struggling for work this badly, is she? The duo are then chased by organisation(s) with unknown motives who try to thwart them or complete the task before them. Then there’s a silly twist. Its first hour and a half struggles with the fact that you have no idea what anyone wants. Then the final half an hour struggles with the fact that it takes 20 minutes to explain all of it. It’s clunky storytelling which would be more at home in a review written by me than a supposed action thriller.
This movie aims to add style to its substance and misses both. It misses the clear gold of the centre target and hits some strange murky brown concoction 30 metres to the left, which is neither exciting or of any substantive significance to be memorable. The only thing you truly appreciate is just how badly it managed to miss the mark.
Pop or Poop?
Tom Hanks runs around, with a thankless Felicity Jones at his side in the latest mystery to be adapted from the page-turning novels of Dan Brown. The mystery is dull, the action limps along and nothing makes any sense. It’s business as usual really.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.