Release Date: October 28th, 2016
Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: David S. Pumpkins, Felicity Jones, Omar Sy, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ben Foster and Irrfan Khan
So here we have it: the film version of the fourth Dan Brown book in his Robert Langdon series, a movie no one was really begging for and just sort of appeared. I really don't have a lot to say about this today guys. It was boring. It was convoluted. It was slightly better than the book and yet somehow slightly worse.
Robert Langdon wakes up in a hospital in Florence, Italy, unsure of how he got there or why he's injured. When he's attacked by a woman who is dressed as a local police officer, he escapes with the doctor helping him, only to find himself at the center of a plot to release a virus that will act as a second Black Death, killing half the population. Along with his new mystery-solving companion Dr. Sienna Brooks, he must look for clues in relics and artwork that refer to Dante's Inferno, a part of his Divine Comedy describing his trip through Hell, while keeping a step ahead of a group working to ensure the plague is released as well as the World Health Organization.
While I didn't enjoy the book, I felt that the movie made a huge disservice to itself by removing a lot of the novel's impactful twists, such as the nature of the virus and what it was designed to actually do. In its place, we get a standard virus/pandemic situation, which creates a more straightforward and less impactful story. Even though the movie is a slimmed down version of the book, it still felt bloated. There was too much going on with too many characters shifting between swaying loyalties. Who is on whose side? Why did they switch? Why do we care?
I think what struck me the most about this film was how dull Felicity Jones was. She barely talked outside of a monotone and kept a single uninspired facial expression for 98% of her time on screen. It was worse having her next to Tom Hanks, who could perform in the worst movie and still come off as entertaining. It seems that whatever direction she was given was shared by most of the cast, who wander through this movie stone-faced and unenthused. Come on people, the world's about to end. Emote a little!
There are a couple of choices they made that are improvements from the book and for the franchise in general. For one, Hanks' hair is shorter. Seriously, that semi-long hair thing he was rocking in the past two Dan Brown movies looked ridiculous. There is an established romantic history between Robert Langdon and the head of the W.H.O., which makes a lot more sense than the creepy implied one with Sienna at the end of the novel. The film also opens with a fantastically chosen line from the book about making the choice between killing most of the population now or having the human race extinct in a hundred years. And of course, Hanks stands out as the acting heavyweight, making parts of the film seem almost enjoyable.
I might watch Angels and Demons or The Da Vinci Code if it were on TV, but Inferno is a wreck. The plot makes even less sense when trimmed for a two-hour film, and the leaps of logic are nonsensical and difficult to follow. The film does a better job of establishing why there's a trail of clues to follow, but it still doesn't make it worth it. If you enjoyed the book then go check it out, but I think this one is better served as a rental down the road.