Inferno is a mystery thriller which revolves around clues referring back to Dante’s depiction of hell which Robert Langdon, who’s suffering from memory loss, must solve before a fatal pathogen is released. The disease has been synthesised by an egomaniac in order to rid mankind of the “cancer in its own body”: overpopulation. It all sounds so complex, so why is it so predictable? Ron Howard’s adaption of Inferno, the fourth book in Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series, is a good way to spend two hours if you’re looking for some puzzle-solving lite and a fine exposition of the art and architecture Florence has to offer – but intellectual fodder it is not.
If you are prepared to put occasional plot holes and less-than-believable explanations for head wounds to the side, there is still entertainment to be had. Tom Hanks reprises the role of Langdon for the third time, and Felicity Jones plays Sienna, the geeky child whizz turned (supposedly) razor-sharp intellectual who accompanies the professor for the majority of the film – although she’s so smart you wonder why she needs him there to solve the clues at all. Jones is a compelling actress and manages to make what is for the most part a fairly bland character into something a little more interesting.
The idea of overpopulation being a problem that needs to be addressed one way or another is an intriguing one, but Howard could have done so much more with it. Both Langdon and those seeking to release the pathogen believe they are saving humanity through what they’re doing, but there is never any exploration of that moral duality, and it is a great shame. Instead, the film gets a little caught up in people running here there and everywhere, looking serious and shouting into walkie-talkies. In fairness, there are some imaginative hallucinatory scenes in which Langdon sees Dante’s descriptions of hell come alive around him that, as the camera paws over Florence and Venice, add a little bit of spice to the mix and will either sincerely please or intensely horrify anyone who knows a bit about Dante.
Inferno is not going to leave any cinema-goers reeling with the thrill of a good mystery drama. If you go to see this film hoping for something other than escapism you may be disappointed, but there is fun to be had in the melodrama of it all.
Inferno is released nationwide on 14th October 2016.
Watch the trailer for Inferno here: