Review: New Langdon Adventure "Inferno" Misses Mark

3 min read

The Da Vinci Code and subsequent installments have always been a cursed franchise, of sorts. The three Ron Howard films based off of Dan Brown’s best-selling Robert Langdon mystery novels seem to have everything necessary for a blockbuster film; an Academy Award lead actor (Tom Hanks), a repeatedly successful director (Howard), and a plot line based on some of the most popular thriller books in recent history. However, they always fail to meet critical expectations.
The Da Vinci Code film adaptation seemed to lack the substance contained within the novel, as well as the believable characters that made it so successful. Angels & Demons which was made several years later upped the ante, adding Ewan McGregor (Star Wars, episodes I-III, Trainspotting) to the cast, but failed to attract the same audience as its predecessors.
Surprisingly, Inferno is a cinematic improvement, building upon and compensating somewhat for the drawbacks of The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. Not only is the acting superior to that of the earlier films, but the plot line is more relevant to today’s world. While The Da Vinci Code was concerned with solving an antiquated biblical mystery, Inferno stays in the present day, tackling climate change and the planet’s growing population problem.
The film starts off with scholarly adventurer Langdon (Hanks) lying in a foreign hospital bed, reeling in pain, remembering nothing from the previous 72 hours. He is plagued by a vision of a cityscape covered in blood, with haunting images of an apocalyptic nature.
After escaping from a possible assassin, Langdon teams up with a young polymath to save the world… again. It turns out that a megalomaniac billionaire (always fun), inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, plans on releasing a toxin that will decimate the earth’s population. He addresses the world in a video broadcast 24 hours in advance, asking “If you had it within your means to destroy half the planet in an effort to eliminate the possibility of human extinction, wouldn’t you?” Langdon, a Dante specialist, amongst many other things, searches through the pages of Dante’s Inferno for clues. He races from the Terracotta rooftops of Florence to the serpentine canals of Venice, every tick from his Mickey Mouse wristwatch signaling the impending death of humanity.

COURTESY OF Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones star in "Inferno."
Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones star in “Inferno.”

Taking after some similar storylines of previous Howard films.
In applying a real world problem to the plot line, the film is just as engaging as the previous two installments, with the mystery making it all the more relevant. The exponential population growth facing this planet is a major problem, but it’s something few people want to discuss. The solution either involves limiting procreation or, something much worse. Inferno brings these potential solutions to life. One is able to see the potential consequences of such actions in this movie
This high-stakes conflict is the drive behind all of Robert Langdon’s actions in Inferno. And while the performances of Hanks and Jones stand up to scrutiny, the world-annihilating threat feels new but underdeveloped.
For those interested in a fun, treasure hunt through history that earlier films and novels provided, you will not be disappointed by Inferno.

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