Ron Howard directs Tom Hanks for the third time as the character Robert Langdon, in what feels like an obligatory adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel, Inferno.
Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) wakes up in hospital with a head injury and short term amnesia before he’s thrust into a mystery surrounding the release of a deadly biological weapon by Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), am extremist billionaire with plans to cleanse the world from overpopulation. Langdon is joined on his mission to solve the mystery behind the circumstances he’s in by Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones).
Inferno is a film with a A-list credentials behind and in front of the camera, but with a story and performances that fit better in a direct-to-video film. With a twist that you can see coming a mile away, the story doesn’t really offer anything much in the way of originality and the film lacks any serious tension for a thriller.
Tom Hanks reprises his role as Langdon for the third time now, so his performance is on point but mostly uninspired by this stage. Felicity Jones is decent as his aid, though it did feel as though she was just going through the motions. The same could also be said for Omar Sy’s and Irrfan Khan’s performances, which is a shame as all of those actors have plenty of potential.
You can’t really blame the actors though, the script and direction by Ron Howard just do not keep you at the edge of your seat, which is what a film like this should have done. Not having read the source material, it’s hard to compare whether or not Dan Brown’s book was equally un-thrilling or if the filmmakers just missed the mark with the adaptation. Inferno plays out more like a mainstream-friendly thriller rather than going all out with it in one direction or another, at the risk of losing potential viewers. It’s fair to say though that The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons (Howard’s first two films featuring Langdon and based on Brown’s books) were also the same, so at least this film keeps in line with those to round out the trilogy.
One thing Inferno does have going for it though is it’s excellent production values. Set mostly in the stunning streets and museums of Florence, Italy, the film is gorgeous to look at. Add to that some excellent, hellish imagery via way of hallucinations that Langdon experiences, the film hits the mark on the visual aesthetic. Likewise, Hans Zimmer’s score matches the tonality of the film, but his music won’t really leave a lasting impression.
Fans of Dan Brown’s work and the past films in the Langdon trilogy will get something out of Inferno and it does have some entertainment value for all audiences, though it’s mostly forgettable stuff.
During location filming, its production codename was “Headache”, which may be a reference to a concussion suffered by Robert Langdon early in the story.