Inferno: Thriller sequel that crashes and burns

Something always bothered me about the tin-foil-hatted way in which classic art and literature is made to be part of a super secret puzzle that only one person in the world can solve. The person in question happens to be Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), who reprises his role as the ever-frowning symbologist in the third adaptation of the Dan Brown books of the same name. It seems to me that all the decrypting has taken its toll, as Hanks’ performance is extremely wooden throughout.

Langdon finds himself in hospital, experiencing flashbacks of apocalyptic events, when he is immediately flung into action after he is attacked in his room. He is saved by Sienna (Felicity Jones, of The Theory of Everything fame), and now must track down a deadly virus that threatens to wipe out half of civilisation.

Inferno starts off strong, with gorgeous helicopter shots that really show off the architecture of Florence, with a tingling soundtrack that sets the tone well. The opening scene ends with some convincing and graphic special effects which I was surprised to see in a 12A rated film. As soon as the tone shifts, Inferno becomes less than hot stuff. The editing in the hospital and flashback sequences was extremely eclectic and messy, and I couldn’t help noticing how bored Langdon looked, even after finding out about the deadly super virus. I did like the sound design, however, when even a glass being put down is amplified to ear-splitting levels. This is to give the audience a sense of what it’s like to suddenly wake up with a wound to your head – although I can’t vouch for my newly developed tinnitus.

Ben Foster plays the posthumous villain, billionaire Bertrand Zobrist, who subscribes to the notion that humanity must be culled in order to properly flourish. Apparently, he cares so much about killing people, that he lays a series of fiendish clues for someone else to do it, instead of pressing the button himself, thus eliminating the possibility of his plan failing. I guess he just wanted to add the extra variables in for fun, and then kill himself so that he can’t make sure his plan succeeds. There’s a moral subtext where Zobrist is convinced that he’s really committing genocide because he loves people so much, but it just comes off as unbelievable.

Soon, the heroes are jogging around Florence on another jumped up sightseeing tour, a formula that really doesn’t get better with age, and after the most anticlimactic “I can’t find a signal” moments in recent memory, I was left scratching my head. Not in confusion, but in bewilderment.

4/10

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