"Dante's Inferno isn't a fiction, it's a prophecy."
Welcome to the latest stage of “Why should I care about this?” This week’s addition sees the third instalment of an increasingly dour series of adaptations that are based upon a terrible series of books that inexplicably became a bestseller. Despite carrying the talents of Ron Howard and Tom Hanks, Dan Brown’s books have been about as unsatisfying on the screen as they have been on the page and the latest addition, ‘Inferno’, is by no means an exception.
Harvard University professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) awakens in a hospital room in Florence, Italy, with no memory of what has transpired over the last few days, but being plagued with visions of a Hell-like Earth. Accompanied by Doctor Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) he soon finds himself embroiled in a plot of conspiracies and assassins in a quest to uncover the truth.
In some regards ‘Inferno’ was actually one of my most anticipated films of 2016, not out of the hope that it would actually be good in any way, shape or form, nor the promise that we might at least get some entertainment from a terribly made film. The reason I was looking forward to ‘Inferno’ was to see Mark Kermode’s inevitable evisceration of it, which did not disappoint and frankly is far more invigorating than anything to be found within this movie.
But what of the actual movie itself? Well what always strikes me about the Robert Langdon films is how difficult they must be for a screenwriter to adapt into anything noteworthy, mainly because Dan Brown is a writer with no concept of an internal monologue, so his universe is a one where every character says exactly what they are thinking at any given time, explains who they are and their entire life story to anyone who meets them and who spout exposition as if their lives depended on it. Like its predecessors ‘Inferno’ does not have a plot as much as it has a collection of expositional monologues that lead from one set piece to another.
What separates ‘Inferno’ from the previous films of this series though is just how little it seemed to care about anything and how little effort it put into even pretending that it was anything meant to be taken seriously. Whereas ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Angles and Demons’ carried themselves with a prestigious sense of grandeur that at the very least made their woeful scripts and bafflingly convoluted plots comical in a so-bad-it’s-good way, ‘Inferno’ simply seems to have given up. As I watched the film I even found myself slowly giving up as well, wondering why I was even putting the effort into attempting to find anything intellectually interesting, entertainingly profound or dramatically engaging within the movie.
It speaks volumes about just how awful a script is when the likes of Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones can’t even make the dialogue sound even mildly engaging. Hanks has crafted so many endearing characters over the years that it almost boggles the mind how one of his roles can be so mind numbingly boring, bland and uninteresting that I found myself stryggling to hang onto his continual drones of architecture and symbolism. The plot itself is full of so many hilariously idiotic touches from the main villain leaving a breadcrumb trail that ultimately explains how to prevent his own plan, the contrived motivations behind each character and the fact that it seems to think its audience is so stupid that it reminds us what an anagram is every single time it appears as a plot point in the movie, which is only made all the more annoying considering that about 50% of the previous films were also devoted to explaining what an anagram was, meaning that they seem to think that even their own devoted fans won’t have picked up on their usual bag of tricks by now.
To top it all off, even Ron Howard’s usually efficient direction seems to have disappeared entirely (a common symptom of working with Dan Brown is would seem) in favour of quick edits and shaky cam that makes any scene of high tension almost as incomprehensible as the plot itself. While it has the potential to be entertainingly incompetent the whole farce rapidly becomes boring and by the time one arrives at the final twist (which is incidentally is so large and lumbering that the only way a viewer could miss it was if they were asleep for the majority of the movie) that I defy anyone to even show the slightest interest in it.
Simply not worth the time or effort to care or even show the tiniest minuscule of interest.