Action Adaptation

'Inferno' Film Review: A hellishly dumb but entertaining sequel

October 26, 2016Ben MK

This past summer saw super-soldier Jason Bourne come out of retirement after a nearly decade-long absence from cinemas. Now, it's time for another globetrotting man-of-action to make his return to the big screen after his own seven-year hiatus, and his name is Robert Langdon.

Once again reprising the role he played in 2006's The Da Vinci Code and 2009's Angels & Demons, Tom Hanks' third outing as the protagonist of author Dan Brown's bestselling series of books finds the the Harvard symbology professor thrust into yet another mystery-solving, race against the clock. This time, however, the stakes are higher than ever, as Langdon must stop the release of a deadly virus designed to wipe out half the Earth's population.

Teaming up with a feisty doctor named Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), Langdon embarks on a journey that will take him from Florence, to Istanbul, to Vienna, as he deciphers the cryptic clues left behind by the virus' creator, Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), a billionaire scientist with controversial theories about how to solve the planet's overpopulation problem. There's just one catch, though: Langdon is also suffering from retrograde amnesia, a condition which adds a whole new level of difficulty to what would otherwise be a rote and familiar challenge.

Directed by Ron Howard and scripted by David Koepp, what follows is nonetheless a fairly standard, by-the-numbers thriller. However, that's not to say that Inferno doesn't manage to at least remain terrifically entertaining throughout, thanks in no small part to the committed performances of Hanks, Jones and the rest of its talented cast, which also includes X-Men: Days of Future Past's Omar Sy and Westworld's Sidse Babett Knudsen.

As for the film's moniker, it's a reference to Dante's Divine Comedy, the ancient poem that not only inspires the riddles Langdon and Sienna must solve along the way, but also the name of the virus itself (not to mention the title of the Dan Brown novel from which the movie was adapted). That being said, if you're hoping for any semblance of depth among Inferno's literary allusions, you're better off revisiting something like David Fincher's Seven, as Inferno's ability to supply viewers with even a moderate amount of cerebral stimulation is minimal at best.

The film's highlight, though, has got to be Life of Pi's Irrfan Khan, who plays a man named Harry Sims, the leader of an organization engaged in a parallel pursuit of the virus. And though the character itself isn't particularly interesting, Khan seems to be having some genuine fun in his role; and the dry, quippy humor that he brings to the movie helps inject a sense of fun that's sorely missed as Inferno builds to its hokey, all too predictable climax.

Inferno releases October 28th, 2016 from Sony Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, disturbing images, some language, thematic elements and brief sensuality. Its runtime is 2 Hrs. 1 Min.

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