Release date: 14th October 2016/Watch the trailer here
Inferno is the latest film starring Tom Hanks’ Professor Robert Langdon, following on from 2006’s The Da Vinci Code and 2009’s Angels & Demons. Based on the fourth novel of author Dan Brown’s series chronicling the adventures of Professor Langdon (The Lost Symbol is still yet to make it to the big screen), Inferno finds Langdon waking up in a hospital in Florence, suffering from a head wound and with no recollection of how he got there or what he was doing in Italy in the first place. After the police show up at the hospital and start shooting, Langdon escapes with his doctor, Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), and discovers a puzzle relating to Dante’s ‘Inferno’. Langdon and Sienna must travel across Europe to solve the clues before it is too late: at the end of the puzzle lies a deadly virus that will wipe out 95% of humanity, created by genius billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) as a way of culling the planet’s spiralling population.
So far, so far-fetched; but arguably the most enjoyable thing about the Robert Langdon films – aside from Tom Hanks, of course – is the requirement of their audience to suspend their disbelief as the professor races across Europe, this time taking in locations from Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, solving impossible riddles as he goes. It’s all absolutely ridiculous, but it’s still great fun in the process.
And that’s how the first hour of Inferno plays out: fun, never boring, and stopping to visit a plethora of picturesque locations across Florence and Venice. Unfortunately, however, it’s after the film’s first plot twist is heavy-handedly revealed that things start to go a little off the rails. Once the puzzles have been solved and there’s no more Dante to be quoted, Inferno becomes a race for survival, to find the virus before it is released upon the world. This culminates in an overblown finale – albeit in a beautiful setting – the like of which has become so stale that it’s easy to believe that a film about a plague that had actually succeeded in killing off ninety-five per cent of the population would have been a lot more interesting.
The problem with Inferno, as with its predecessors, is that as much as it attempts to pretend otherwise, it’s little more than a convoluted conspiracy theory plot and Art History 101, with Tom Hanks dragged along for the ride. It may have worked ten years ago, but three films in, it’s all starting to feel a little too familiar. Even Hanks is starting to look tired of it: charismatic as ever but coasting his way from start to finish. Still, Inferno isn’t as awful as it could have been – it’s just a shame that it’s not as good as the first hour promised that it should have been.