Inferno

Posted on October 27, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Copyright Sony 2016
Copyright Sony 2016

Dashing, globe-trotting symbology professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) doesn’t work any harder at trying to prevent a global pandemic than Hanks and director Ron Howard work at trying to make the Dan Brown book into a movie. You can guess how Langdon’s effort works out. I’m here to tell you that the movie does not. Not even close.

Langdon wakes up, disoriented and with a gash on his head. As far as he remembers, he is still at Harvard but somehow he sees Florence out the window. He has no recollection of the past few days and the doctor (Felicity Jones) explains that he has temporary retrograde amnesia. Her name is Sienna.  Conveniently, she speaks English — she is English — and several other languages, and even more conveniently she is a fan of his work because she “likes puzzles.”  She attended one of his lectures when she was nine years old and has read all of his books with such devotion that she even mentions there is one she didn’t like much.

When an assassin dressed as a police officer starts shooting at them, Sienna grabs Robert and brings him, still in his hospital gown, to her apartment. Pretty soon, they are both on the trail of a puzzle that leads to an impending release of a virus that while wipe out 80 percent of humanity, put in place by a crazed zillionaire who had some very strong feelings about the problems of over-population, and who fell to his death in the prologue, but not before warning darkly that “Humanity is the disease; Inferno is the cure.”

Robert, still groggy, has to figure out how to stop release of the virus. But the clues are simply that that puzzling or interesting.  Unlike The Da Vinci Code, where Brown put together a clever and intricate series of clues based on authentic history and art, this one is little more than chase scenes in iconic locations, alternating with yawn-inducing scenes people barking kill orders into headsets and staring intently into monitors.

We also get drearily Delphic pronouncements like “the truth can be glimpsed only through the eyes of death” and somber almost-adages like “the greatest sins in human history have been committed in the name of love,” squinting at Renaissance frescos, a mysterious group with the PAC-like name The Command Risk Consortium (“We are not the government; we get things done”), a stolen death mask of “Inferno” poet Dante Alighieri, and an absurd pause for a chat about missed chances and regret. Irrfan Khan provides an all-too-brief bright spot, and I would happily see an entire movie about his crisp and unflappable character. As for the rest, one action scene is underwater, but the rest of it drags so much it feels like it might be, too.

Parents should know that this film includes fantasy/action style violence with grotesque and disturbing images, theme of global pandemic, chases and extended peril with characters injured and killed, suicide, betrayal, some strong and crude language, and a sexual situation.

Family discussion: Who is doing the most to address the problems of over-population? Why is Dante especially appropriate for this story?

If you like this, try: “The Da Vinci Code”

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Action/Adventure Based on a book Series/Sequel

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