Inferno is the latest installment in what I am calling The Da Vinci Code trilogy (The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, and this) and is based off Dan Brown’s book of the same name. It stars Tom Hanks, returning to play world-renowned symbolist Robert Langdon who wakes up in Florence with no memory of the last two days and suffering from apocalyptic visions. He soon discovers that a billionaire named Bertrand Zobrist has created a super virus that will wipe out half the world’s population in order to deal with overpopulation and that he is somehow involved. Langdon, along with his mysterious companion Sienna (Felicity Jones), must solve a series of clues to find the plague before it is released, uncover Langdon’s forgotten past, and dodge authorities who wish to catch Langdon at any cost.
If you wish to see this movie, then I suggest you take the easy route and just watch The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons because they are all the same. All these movies have the same bad writing, unnecessarily serious tone, unrealistic and dumb characters, convoluted story, and plot. They are all the same bad movie, just wearing different masks to hide it. However, Inferno is definitely the worst out of the three because it lacks a necessity for all historical scavenger hunt movies: intrigue. Take The Da Vinci Code. Objectively, it is just as bad as Inferno, but I would say it is the best out of the three films because it has the most historical intrigue. It has secret societies, a history-changing secret, and hidden clues in famous things. All of these make it interesting and captivating to watch. Even Angels and Demons, for how bad it is, still possesses the intrigue, with hidden messages in Galileo’s books, clues in famous statues, etc.
What does Inferno have to offer then? It’s just a terrorist using historically themed clues to lead to a modern weapon. That’s not terribly interesting. It doesn’t fill the audience with wonder at the mysteries of history. The fact that the clues are about Dante and are historically themed is completely meaningless, as there is no deeper significance behind them. They might as well be math problems for how much they matter. Without any historical intrigue or conspiracy theories, all of Inferno’s problems are laid bare, with no finery to distract from them.
So, if the treasure hunt is bland and uncaptivating, then what is the main focus of the film? I would assume the main characters, but I’m not sure, as Langdon is the only one given much real focus and he suffers from a major character problem. A good tip for adventure writers: never make the quest the main focus of the story. The characters, their personal relation to their quest, and how it changes them should be the main focus. In National Treasure, Ben Gates doesn’t search for the Masonic treasure just because it’s an ancient important thing. He goes on his quest because he believes in the sanctity of history, and the villains threaten that. Indiana Jones goes on all his adventures driven by personal reasons, his love for Marion, a need to save and reconnect with his estranged father, his moral desire to free the child slaves from the Indian death cult.
The hero must always have some personal connection with the plot of the story, otherwise nothing in the movie matters. So, in Inferno, what is Robert Langdon’s personal connection with his quest? A need to save humanity? Any sane person would feel the same, so he’s not special there. A random person on the street could have become involved and been as motivated and driven as Langdon given the circumstances. A need to recover his memories? Maybe, but the story itself seems to care more about that plotline than Robert does, as he hardly ever shows any concern about it, and it’s concluded about half way through the feature. The only real emotional connection between Robert and anything that is happening on screen is that he had a relationship with the director of the World Health Organization, who pursues them in the film, and he meets up with her two-thirds of the way through the film. That‘s it. It’s not even resolved by the end of the movie. That’s the problem with the film in a nutshell. The quest isn’t interesting enough to captivate or entertain the audience (in fact it’s downright confusing for how convoluted it makes itself for the sake of surprising the audience with twists), and the characters are just emotionally detached pawns to play out the movie. This film has literally no substance to offer. The Wikipedia plot summary of Inferno has the same emotional depth, intrigue, and memorability of this film, only it costs less money and wastes less time.
With nothing to preoccupy or intrigue the audience, this film commits the worst sin any film can commit: being boring. Sure, the other two films in this series have all the same problems as this one including convoluted plots, stupid characters, underwhelming acting, forgettable scores, and an overly serious tone, but at least they had the substance to make the films entertaining to watch. This film is naked, devoid of anything to interest or distract the audience. They just have to sit there and take in all the mediocrity and blandness this film has to offer. It is a nothing of a movie, that feels like it moves slower than time and leaves you underwhelmed to the point of exhaustion. I will give Inferno a C-.
By Sam Finbury