Inferno (2016)
Inferno (2016)

Genre: Mystery and Thriller Running Time: 2 hrs. 1 min.

Release Date: October 28th, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Ron Howard Actors: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, Ben Foster, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ana Ularu, Ida Darvish

 


 

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waking in a hospital in Italy, Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) discovers he’s suffering from a grazing gunshot wound to the head, a troubling skin rash, and short-term memory loss. Unsure of how he got there, Langdon must rely on the doctor monitoring his condition, Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), to help him escape from the facility after a policewoman (Ana Ularu) arrives and attempts to murder him. When a call to the U.S. Consulate brings the assassin and the World Health Organization down upon them, Langdon and Brooks determine to solve their predicament themselves. As the professor’s memory steadily returns, the duo traces clues in images of Dante’s Inferno to the sinister creation of a deadly plague. With time rapidly running out, the two cryptologists must locate the virus and thwart the forces of evil from unleashing it upon the world.

“Nothing changes behavior like pain,” muses Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), a billionaire intent on solving the conundrum of humanity’s devastating effect on the Earth’s environment. And from this comment comes some very disturbing, filmed recreations of Dante’s specific vision of Hell. But they’re included almost solely for the sake of stuffing the theatrical trailer with shocking imagery – or perhaps just to darken the content of this latest quest through terrifying historical mysteries. It’s commercial rather than purposeful, especially considering that the Inferno is represented only through nightmarish hallucinations. Langdon never actually sees or participates with anything that would transform the simple illustration into something so vivid – like a biblical twist on Silent Hill. And with all of this is a strange preoccupation with body horror (an element present in both previous films), intent on showing bleeding scars, mutilated wounds, and hypodermic needles to the neck.

The evils of overpopulation (“Humanity is the disease; Inferno is the cure”) are reduced to a complicated hunt for clues that lead to other clues, involving numerous pursuing parties (including a provost, a maniac, the W.H.O., the Carabinieri, other local police forces, and a super secretive organization). And somehow, Langdon is caught up in the middle. But instead of a smartly crafted mystery, the purpose for his involvement is little more than knowledge of the paintings and mythology used by a mad scientist to stash a doomsday device. It’s an oddly science-fiction premise that doesn’t require a sleuth so much as a black-ops soldier. Nevertheless, there’s something amusing about taking a generic chase film formula and intermixing biblical and religious texts and pictorial components, aspiring to be along the lines of the adventures of Indiana Jones. Sadly, despite some action and a couple of tense sequences, the excitement level is continuously sluggish.

Aiding in the retrograde amnesia narrative (or the mystery of forgotten memories) is a pretty young woman who wears heels casually around her house (and therefore everywhere she happens to globetrot), some red-herring associates who all know exactly where every other character has been and will be, and plenty of hench-people (each moving around like a Terminator) plotting to assassinate the fleeing Langdon. It quickly becomes comical in the way all of these characters continue to cross paths, as if the world were so small that they could accidentally run into one another, despite the fact that they’re traveling from places like Italy to Turkey. But what is truly unfortunate about the storytelling is the lack of straightforward storytelling. The majority of the movie is comprised of flashbacks and lengthy scenes of exposition, indicating that the anticipated viewership will be far too stupid to follow an engaging mystery. Instead of revealing prominent tidbits for audiences to piece together on their own, “Inferno” resorts almost exclusively to designing hopelessly intricate references to trivial items, only to comprehensively explain away everything after the fact – again through flashbacks or characters chattering back and forth. At least the climax is set in a fascinating, touristy location. But it’s a shame that real adventure is substituted for puzzle-solving, and that those moments of puzzle-solving are deciphered by mere talk.

– The Massie Twins

  • 4/10