Inferno (2016) Review


Even a symbologist as obtuse and oblivious as Robert Langdon can’t miss the obvious signs that this franchise is dead. Bloated, boring and often incoherent, “Inferno” looks to Dante for inspiration but it’s the audience who are made to sit through nine levels of Hell.

When a dazed and amnesiac Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) awakens in a Florence hospital room, he quickly comes under attack and flees with his doctor Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones). When they find a Faraday Pointer which projects a subtly altered map of Dante’s Inferno in his personal possessions they realize it’s the first clue in a trail left by recently deceased billionaire geneticist Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster).

It may be the shortest Robert Langdon film to date but it feels like the longest. Dan Brown’s storytelling is getting weaker and weaker and the plotting of “Inferno” is messy and convoluted without ever once managing to be clever. Without the zeitgeist immediacy of “The DaVinci Code” or the papal intrigue of “Angels And Demons”, “Inferno” rehashes themes which were explored more innovatively and intelligently in the UK TV series “Utopia” and a spinelessly studio-driven decision to change the ending of the novel robs it of even the slightest element of narrative interest.

Neither Hanks nor director Ron Howard apparently retain any passion for the source material and both labour to even phone in their contractual obligations to bring this steaming pile to the big screen. Hanks seems bored to be back in the Langdon saddle and it doesn’t help that he’s paired with a similarly disengaged Felicity Jones. Her dead-eyed and guilelessly duplicitous performance is so achingly unsubtle it tips the movie’s hand in respect of Dan Brown’s usual plot twists but even without it by the time of the reveal you won’t care anyway. The rest of the famous faces are so poorly served by the script that they may as well not have been cast at all.

Accompanied by an intrusive and ill matched score from Hans Zimmer – who seems intent on parodying Vangelis – this is a disappointingly toothless conspiracy potboiler that can’t rise above its pulpy origins.