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New Release Review - INFERNO

Tom Hanks returns to the role of Dan Brown's hero Robert Langdon.






Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Ron Howard

Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, Sidse Babett Knudsen



By all means lay down your cash and go see Inferno, but the experience could be easily duplicated by flicking on the Discovery Channel and blasting the Bourne Identity soundtrack over the images. This is an abyss of entertainment.



Before sparkly eyed vampires, girls on public transport and tattooed Scandinavian sleuths captured the imaginations of readers, author Dan Brown's 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code could be found nestling in the palms of the world's bookworms. It's hard to think of a more ubiquitous piece of literature (though some would debate such a label); it felt like everyone I knew had read Brown's book, yet not one of them would admit to enjoying it.


Inevitably, the novel was brought to the screen, directed by Ron Howard and featuring Tom Hanks in the lead role of Harvard scholar Robert Langdon. Again, everyone I know saw the movie, and again none of them seemed to enjoy it. A sequel, 2009's Angels and Demons didn't attract half the attention and was even more poorly received, so it seemed Brown's franchise was finished, on screen at least. But with everything old being new again, Langdon is back for, oddly enough, an adaptation of the fourth book in the series, which makes you wonder how bad the third story is.

This one opens with Langdon waking in a Florence hospital bed with a bullet wound in his cranium, and no recollection of how he ended up there. When a female terminator dressed as a Carabinieri attacks the hospital, Langdon escapes with his doctor, Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), who conveniently, if improbably, is English. Hiding out in Sienna's apartment, Langdon finds a small tube on his person (given his only clothing was a hospital gown we can but guess where it was stashed) that turns out to contain a mini projector that beams a copy of Botticelli's painting 'The Abyss of Hell' onto the wall. Scribbled on the painting are mysterious letters. What could it all mean?


Well, you needn't worry, as for the next two hours Langdon explains in exhaustive detail exactly what it all means, delivering mini history lessons while he and Sienna flee across the more scenic parts of Southern Europe. With a plot too convoluted and ill-conceived to be worth bothering with, you'll find yourself focussing on the film's stunning locations. It may be a sub mediocre piece of storytelling, but Inferno is one hell of an advert for the Italian and Turkish tourist boards. So much attention is paid to a variety of tourist traps - with the camera fetishising piazzas and museums while Langdon delivers geography and history lessons - that much of the film feels like an episode of Whicker's World, but sadly lacking Whicker's wit.

Though it's a sequel to a series whose prime was a mere decade ago, the travelogue aspect makes it play like a relic of an era before affordable travel and package holidays, when cinemagoers were happy to endure any old guff if it featured locales they could never afford to visit themselves.


The plot developments are often nonsensical, and an incident involving a lack of cellphone coverage is unintentionally hilarious in its ineptitude, both on the part of the character involved and David Koepp, the screenwriter who penned this ridiculously lazy twist, and should really know better given his CV. There's a romantic subplot, but as it involves Hanks, the poster boy for asexuality, it leads nowhere.

By all means lay down your cash and go see Inferno, but the experience could be easily duplicated by flicking on the Discovery Channel and blasting the Bourne Identity soundtrack over the images. This is an abyss of entertainment.

Inferno is in cinemas October 14th.






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