Dan Brown as authored three books with a protagonist named Robert Langdon; ‘The Da Vinci Code’, ‘Angels & Demons’ and ‘Inferno’. All have now been made into a movie with Tom Hanks playing Langdon. The most recent ‘Inferno’ uses imagery from Dante’s description of Hell. So now the audience knows what they are in for…
Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is a famous professor at Harvard. Yet he wakes up in a hospital room in Florence, Italy. He has no memory of the last few days. Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) has been helping take care of him, but there is an assassin who comes in and attempts to kill Langdon. Brooks helps Langdon escape.
After much lengthy exposition, they find clues to a super virus designed by a mad biologist-billionaire named Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster). He planted a virus to wipe out 90% of humanity. Zobrist was being chased by international agents of the World Health Organization (WHO), and when cornered, he killed himself rather than reveal the location of the deadly virus.
Zorbist hired a super-secret security firm run by Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan). They were supposed to carry out his final wishes, but Sims finds out that the virus will be fatal to most of the world’s population. So he joins forces with the head of WHO, named Elizabeth Sinskey (Sidse Babett Knudsen). She does not trust him, but she has no choice.
Christoph Bouchard (Omar Sy) finds Langdon and Brooks, and he wants to know the location of the virus. He lied about working for WHO, because he wants the virus to sell it on the black market. Langdon and Brooks go from Florence to Venice, and then to Istanbul. Langdon uses his special knowledge of ancient history and symbols to find the location of the virus.
If this all sounds fascinating and exciting, then you would be mistaken. The characters exist only to spout off overheated rhetoric and exposition. Every conceivable situation feels contrived and over-the-top. People know way too much about ancient languages and historical artifacts. Main characters seem to change in a blink of an eye from a reasonable person to money-hungry would-be arms dealer or even a Zobrist inspired bio-terrorist.
Every person in this movie has difficulty being believable, but mostly that is because the story line makes them say and do things that are absurd. Irrfan Khan comes off the best, because his character is somewhat mysterious and morally ambiguous. Tom Hanks has a lot of dialog, but he appears to ‘sleep talk’ his way through it all. Felicity Jones is weighed down with an improbable switch of her character arc midway in the movie.
There is a lot of talking and running, and going from one museum or city to another. There is much movement, but very little in plot development. The major bad guy has committed suicide at the beginning of the movie, and he is not around to fight against Langdon. There is a supposed prior love interest of Langdon’s that is brought up, and that never is resolved. Many doors are opened, but nothing comes from any of it.
Dante’s Inferno was his representation of Hell, put down in words. The movie ‘Inferno’ is just a reimagining of the same Hell, but as a movie experience.