Inferno Review


USING the novels of Dan Brown as their source material, Tom Hanks and Ron Howard reunite for a third time with Inferno, an overtly standard but ultimately entertaining work, in spite of what other critics have been expressing.

The film opens with the suicide of a billionaire (Ben Foster) who was known for his beliefs that the society’s problems could be solved if not for a rapidly growing population.

Meanwhile, Professor Robert Langdon (Hanks) awakes in a hospital bed in Florence, with no memory over what has occurred in the last several days and tormented by images suggesting an apocalypse. Barely escaping with his life following an assassination attempt, he escapes with his doctor, Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) where the two attempt to figure out what has led to their predicament.

As Langdon gradually pieces together his memories, he and his unlikely companion combine  dodging assassins and uncovering unusual events with deadly twists and turns inclusive. On their case are a WHO personnel (Sidse Babbet Knudsen), a determined agent (Omar Sy) and the chair of an organization (Irrfan Khan) in cohesion with the late billionaire willing to go to any lengths to ensure the silence of others.

With all of these people in pursuit of Langdon, the trail not only leads to an increasing body count but to a plot in Istanbul that threatens the existence of billions.

When going into this picture, one was expecting the film to play more like the dullard that was the preceding Angels and Demons instead of the more underrated The Da Vinci Code. The main reason for this film working in the way it does is that it is the sort of film that one expects to be a bland affair, but turns out to be actually the opposite.

While there is a structure that suggests unoriginality and there are characterisations that turn out somewhat thinly, notably the supporting players, the film never feels really boring. Even in spite of Foster, Sy and Knudsen being given clichéd lines and played as basic characters of their respective nature, it survives because of the events going around them. Even when a major twist occurs, though it feels moderately frustrating, it makes barely any difference to the enjoyability of beforehand.

In fact, there is an eerie feeling that plays out during the opening credits, interspersed with statistics regarding population, meaning its started off on a good note already. The use of watching Hanks hallucinate about being in the vicinity of people whose faces are the other way round does struggle to make for convincing scare tactics but as the scenes are brief, they can get away without doing any damage to the plot.

With Langdon’s predicament quickly appearing fairly quickly, there is a mystery as to how he got there. It is mentioned that the head wound he has received has come from a bullet grazing it, so when we hear the word ‘bullet’ we have a build up of curiosities, continuing this notion of getting into the thriller element.

Though it is a cliche seeing characters spending a film/s trying to piece together memories, it is not every film that we see Tom Hanks play such a character and thanks to his highly watchable nature, there is an interest to watch his adventure thanks to him. It’s true that his interpretation of Langdon does not merit in the same speech as Forrest Gump or Captain Phillips, but for this kind of film, it makes for appealing viewing nevertheless.

We also don’t know how he got there either so there is intrigue rather than lack of interest as one queries what occurred and exactly what has he got into. As we learn more, the film sustains its entertaining factor and even if it feels like a chase film without heavy adrenaline, what is seen is bearable and makes us stay to the end rather than run to the nearest exit, because we want to.

There is also the subject of how the film works as a thriller, with the film peaking with its climactic conclusion set inside the Basilica Cistern. While there does appear to be predictability, there is an engaging factor that makes the sequence actually quite thrilling. Whether it is Hanks being able to move far enough to avoid being hit by a sniper or whether the virus at the heart of this can be contained in time, there is gripping action here which makes the film succeed at delivering enough to like.

This is not the sort of thriller that requires people to think yet films occasionally justify their presence of not being highly intelligent like other thrillers as long as it gains attention fast and keeps it. This is one of them because it is clear that the filmmakers have come up with something that might not set off to win awards but attempt to entertain people, which it does and from the outset.

It could have been a disaster but in a big twist that shows how cinema can be, Inferno turns out to be a likable Brown adaptation, though one view might just be enough.