Ron Howard’s workmanlike adaptations of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon bestsellers will never be regarded as paragons of the thriller genre, but I’ll admit to getting a fleeting kick out of Angels & Demons’ ludicrous plot, which imagined the Illuminati conspiring to blow up the Vatican with an antimatter bomb. Inferno, the third in the film series, is very much in the same ballpark of crazy, following symbologist Langdon (Tom Hanks) as he scrambles through another serpentine trail of cryptic clues and shadowy figures.
This time, saddled with gimmicky memory loss and puzzle-loving doctor Dr. Sienna Jones (Felicity Jones), he’s on a mission to prevent the release of a deadly plague that, according to its grandly deluded billionaire creator Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), will save humanity by culling 50% of its population.
Preposterous pablum from start to finish, Inferno packs apocalyptic imagery, touristic Italian landmarks, laughable drone chases, convoluted twists and an ill-fitting romantic subplot into its clunky, overstuffed two hours. Any film that features Irrfan Khan dryly quipping while plunging daggers into the back of people’s necks is worth a chuckle or two, but the material is pretty much National Treasure-level, by-the-numbers escapism at this stage.
Hanks is on auto-pilot, Jones fails to convince as the fetching, brainy sidekick, and Howard seems like he’s completely checked out, too frequently resorting to hysterical freneticism that fancies Langdon as the Jason Bourne of code-breaking and art history. Where the previous films fell on the right side of enjoyable airport paperback junkiness, Inferno is mostly just junk.
‘Inferno’ Movie Times