One of the posters of Inferno says ‘His greatest challenge yet’.
An interesting quote, wouldn’t you say? By ‘his’ they mean of course: Dr. Robert Langdon, the religious iconology symbologist Tom Hanks so vigorously performs.
Unfortunately for Inferno, the movie does have some very awesome key moments, but something feels off. Different is the first word that comes to mind, but this kind of different tends to become indifference from time to time …
So why is this movie worth watching in the cinema?
Simple. It’s made for the big screen. It looks fantastic! It really does.
The story starts with Tom Hanks who wakes up in the hospital, not sure where he is or what he’s been through the last couple of hours. He has amnesia, and what’s worse, he has another adventure waits just outside his door. Before too long, he teams up with the charming Sienna Brooks. Together they will try and stop a madman from wiping out half of the world’s population through some unnamed deadly virus.
To say more would be to ruin the movie … so I shall remain silent henceforth.
One of the clues that keeps coming back (not spoiling anything, I promise!) is about the Italian poet Dante and some of his most frightening works of art, especially his depictions of Hell and Purgatory, which – as mentioned in the movie – has inspired out modern-day view of what hell must’ve looked like
There is something called the 7 levels of hell (or is it eight?) and between the most magnificent paintings you’ll see in an American blockbuster this year alone, you’ll also be treated to the single most gut-wrenching horror scenes completely with rivers of blood and creepy creatures that looked human a long time ago … don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
But it should be noted that Inferno is the darkest chapter so far – and the way hell is depicted in the movie might give the faint-of-heart a run for their money. You will either enjoy the sickly images of dying people in the streets, or you will look away until the whole scene is done.
Luckily, the movie isn’t about showing pints of blood or ripped-apart bodies. It’s about Tom Hanks running through a bunch of European streets with a lovely female by the hand searching for the next clue of an adventure that takes him deep within the … well … you better watch it yourself.
Director Ron Howard is once again the man behind the camera, and for those who don’t know him, shame on you! He’s the one who made the previous installments about Dr. Robert Langdon such an overwhelming success, but he’s also a very brilliant filmmaker who understands the need to flesh out a movie with coherent writing and consensual characters.
Bla-bla-bla … what does this mean?
It means that Ron Howard is a filmmaker who creates art from the heart. He makes fantasy fun, like Willow. He makes action movies with a soul, such as Backdraft. He makes dramatic movies based onto real events bearing first-class acting and even better dialogues, such as Apollo 13. He makes action-packed thrillers that won’t let you go until the whole thing is over, such as Ransom.
From a filming point-of-view no Ron Howard movie will ever let you down.
And the same goes for Inferno. It’s a movie with wonderful cinematography and style. The atmosphere feels real, and the thrilling aspect is once again very present.
So why is this movie only half good? Well … if I may regard the three Dr. Langdon-movies like they were children:
* the The Da Vinci Code would be the eldest son: he is very strict, very serious and studies a lot.
* Angels & Demons is the second son: he is a lot more playful, more fun to be around with and great at solving puzzles.
* the Inferno is the youngest kid: he tries to mimic his two older brothers, and because of that, he doesn’t always seem secure. He doesn’t always know precisely what he wants to be, and uses fire magic tricks and lots of on-screen outbursts to try and impress the audience … but all it does is cover up the fact that he doesn’t have a whole lot of ingenuity.
There’s two things that make Inferno the weakest brother of the three.
First there are the flashing camera scenes. There’s quite a lot of them, and while they may appear fun and original at first, they will certainly bug you out when the first half hour is through. It’s like Tom Hanks spends more time in his day-time dream than he does in actual reality.
Secondly, there’s the utter lack of puzzles, mysticism and ancient booby traps which is essentially what this series is all about. Maybe the lack can be traced back to the book – although several readers have complained of how some of the juiciest scenes in the book were *not* included in the movie – but overall Inferno is one big cat-and-mouse game where Tom Hanks and his newfound girlfriend have to stay alive long enough before some devious character kills them both.
In short: Inferno is an action movie with one or two interesting plots. It’s however not a smart and cleverly-designed drama like the other two chapters …
As far as acting goes, things also dry up easily.
Only Tom Hanks is truly impressive. The rest of the cast – partly due to vacuum inside the characters they have to play – cannot seem to get grounded enough to raise a real interest.
Is Inferno bad? Hell no! It’s not even weak. But if you look at how the level of filmmaking declined from the brilliant first and second chapter to the median third chapter … then it feels like someone just crashed through the ceiling and fell dead on the floor.
Maybe it’s one of those books that just never was going to be translated into a great movie … I still liked the sneak preview into the gates of hell though … heheheh!
Did you know?
In the book there was a funny moment when Sienna and Robert disguise as rockstars to avoid being seen by the Carabinieri when they want to escape from Palazzo Vecchio. Unfortunately this scene was cut in the film.
Give it to me short:
Inferno isn’t just the third movie in completing the series, it’s also the third movie in terms of quality.
There’s much to be had, such as the wonderfully distasteful horror sequences on what hell must’ve looked like, both in beautiful drawings as in creepy nightmarish day-time visions. There’s the acting of Tom Hanks which is always a plus, especially in his most rewarding role.
And the cinematography of acclaimed director Ron Howard usually speaks terms, and does so too in this movie.
Where does it go wrong then?
Inferno tries to hard to mimic its brothers, despite being obviously taken from an original book. Maybe something went wrong with the translation from book to silver screen – wouldn’t be the first movie-based-on-a-book to be a bit disappointing – or maybe we’ve simply grown tired of watching a clueless Dr. Robert Langdon figure out every single detail of the great mystery that lies ahead.
The true weakness of the movie is actually quite simple.
There is not enough mysticism. Inferno is first and foremost an action movie.
Yes, there’s some drama and yes, there are some puzzles. But it’s all pushed into the background to serve the action which, frankly, isn’t all that awesome. The chase scenes through the European streets look like a lesser version of a Jason Bourne-movie.
In the end, Inferno has some great moments and eventually, you’ll enjoy the movie.
But where The Da Vince Code and Angels & Demons were inspiring all the way, Inferno jumps between ups and downs to deliver a mediocre-entertaining movie.
It’s okay to say ‘Hell no!’ … for this movie, that is.