It’s said that the third film in a trilogy is usually the weakest. “Inferno” does nothing to dispel that belief.
This is the third in a series of mystery/thrillers starring Harvard Professor and apocalypse preventer Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks). It’s based on the writings of Dan Brown and follows up on his hits “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons.”
You remember “The Da Vinci Code,” right? It was all the rage back in the day. “Angels & Demons” got a fair amount of hype too. Yet I didn’t even know this third story existed until the commercials started airing a few weeks ago. And if it hadn’t been for Tom Hanks running around like an action hero, I never would’ve known it was another movie in the series.
The movie begins with Langdon dazed and confused in a hospital bed in Florence, Italy. He doesn’t know how he got there or what he’s doing there. He’s beset upon by vivid, gruesome visions that look like they came out of Dante’s “Inferno.” Turns out they are.
An assassin dressed up like a cop (Ana Ularu) arrives and starts shooting up the place. Langdon is whisked away to safety by his doctor, Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones). They retreat to her apartment, where Langdon finds a tube with bio-hazard symbols on it in his coat pocket. They decide — what the heck? — let’s open it.
Inside the tube is a miniature projector which shines on the wall an image of Dante’s nine circles of Hell. This is just the first of a series of puzzles that will lead Langdon and Brooks to famed historic sites from Florence to Venice to Istanbul. They are being chased by a variety of people who are either trying to help them or kill them, depending on what point in the story you’re at.
The prize at the end of this elaborate scavenger hunt is a deadly virus cooked up by billionaire psycho Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster). Zobrist has decided that overpopulation is destroying the planet and so he’s going to unleash a virus that will wipe out a considerable part of the human race — saving us all in the long run.
Directed by Ron Howard, “Inferno” starts off slowly and maddeningly, picks up a bit in the middle, but then cashes in any good will with a drawn-out, overblown ending. There are too many twists and turns, too much exposition, too many undeveloped characters coming and going, and an unneccesary and unconvincing love story tossed in near the end.
Hanks is his usual, reliable self. It might be worth seeing just for him and the scenery. I also liked Irrfan Khan’s performance, even though I’m still not sure whose side he was on or what his goal was.