It’s been ten years since The Da Vinci Code saw its theatrical release, and six since its sequel, Angels and Demons. That seems like a long time to wait before releasing a third movie, especially since the first two received lukewarm reviews. For a franchise built on the observation and study of historical clues, you’d think they’d learn their lesson. But when you have names like Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, and Hans Zimmer on your payroll, why not go for broke?
Inferno is the third installment in the film adaptations of author Dan Brown's Robert Langdon series, which has four books with a fifth due out next year. The books have been quite successful, unlike their cinematic counterparts, which have seen diminishing returns at the box office. This latest film doesn’t look like it’s going to be any different.
Inferno stars Tom Hanks in his recurring role as the famed symbologist Robert Langdon. It opens with Langdon waking up in a hospital in Florence, unsure of why he’s there. Between disturbing — but super cool — hallucinations of mutilated bodies, medieval battles, and rivers of blood, he meets Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) who tells him he has a head wound and is suffering from mild retrograde amnesia, which would explain why he doesn’t have a clue as to what he’s been up to for the last two days. But before he has time to figure out what is going on, a police officer shows up and starts shooting at him. Luckily, he and Sienna are able to escape.
Once safe, Sienna and Langdon discover a “bio-tube” (high-tech device meant to transport small, highly dangerous substances) in Langdon’s coat. Inside, they find an object that projects an image onto the wall: Botticelli's Map of Hell, as described by Dante in “The Divine Comedy.” Who said high school English wouldn’t come in handy?
Inside this image, someone has hidden an anagram with a secret message. As it turns out, this someone is the now-deceased eccentric billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) who believes that mass genocide is the key to saving humanity, if that makes sense. Zobrist has created a plague-like virus that will be released unless Langdon can do what he does best: solving global scavenger hunts using his vast knowledge of art history! In addition to a race against time to save humankind, Langdon and Sienna are also on the run from the World Health Organization, as well as the cop from the hospital, who actually isn’t a cop at all, but a hired gun employed by a mysterious company. You just can’t trust anyone these days.
This film had a fantastic opening that immediately grabbed my attention, but as the story progressed, I struggled to keep up with all the different characters and their motives. And while I have found myself genuinely entertained by all three of these films, even I admit there were enormous gaps in the plot that were lazily glossed over or just plain ignored. And as if that weren’t bad enough, there's not one, but two half-hearted love stories, one of which is completely irrelevant to the plot.
Having only read The Da Vinci Code, I can’t say how well this movie stayed true to the book, but I have a feeling that the book is probably much better. That’s sad because Dan Brown seems like a really smart guy who does a lot of research to back up his stories. If you liked the other two movies, definitely check this one out, but otherwise, I’d say give it a pass.