Billionaire biotechnician Bertrand Zobrist, obsessed with the imminent disaster of humanity’s extinction through overpopulation, hatches a horrific plan to cull half the world’s people by unleashing a deadly super virus. But on the eve of his man-made Doomsday, instead of detonating his diabolical bomb of germs, he commits suicide and lays an even more diabolical trail of clues inspired by Dante’s Inferno.
Once again, it's up to academic-cum-action-man Dr Robert Langdon, played for the third time by a deeply uninterested and unusually uninteresting Tom Hanks, now addled by a suspect head injury and amnesia (from which he recovers remarkably quickly), to decipher the codes as well as figure out where he fits into the jigsaw puzzle. At least he has the help of a shiny new sidekick, Sienna Brooks, a medical doctor and Dante-fanatic played by Felicity Jones.
Of course, there are more and less-convincing obstacles to Langdon’s task than his awful headaches and fairly nondescript visions. There is the woefully disorganised special armed forces unit of the World Health Organisation (who knew WHO had a special armed forces unit?) chasing after Langdon and the bio-bomb. Oh, and the head of a super-secret private security company which Zobrist enlisted before his death.
As the various crews chase and fight each other at cross-purposes across the world, slowly sifting out the good guys from the bad, you do have to wonder why Zobrist, a man so hell-bent on being the Saviour of the World 2.0 and with such a deep sense of urgency, didn’t just pull the trigger himself and be done with it all. He might have saved the poor bedraggled Harvard professor all the trouble and indeed, saved us the film.
But even putting aside the improbable plot and its covert undermining of environmental concern (see last year’s problematic Kingsman for another example of ‘green scientist gone mad’), where the film really falls down is in its complete mishandling of Dan Brown’s unique selling point – a wealth of information on hidden histories, secret groups and occult art. All that cultural capital, like the location of Florence itself, simply goes to waste. What could have been this film’s saving grace is either miserly kept in the coffers or dealt out in knowledge-dumps so dreary and prosaic they might have been lifted straight from the novel.
When the film does finally stagger to its predictable conclusion, not satisfied with having tested the audience’s ability to suspend its disbelief, it also tests its patience in a laughably anticlimactic moment involving a cell phone with no signal, demonstrating that the team behind this film deserves a spot in the one of the worse circles of Hollywood hell.
The film is concerned with a mad biologist’s unspeakable crime against humanity. We're more concerned about how many people will pay to have this film inflicted on them. Forgive the filmmakers, viewers, for they know not what they do.
|Inferno film review
|Various Locations | MAP
|Leicester Square (underground)
14 Oct 16 – 14 Dec 16, Times vary
|£determined by cinema
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