Movie Review – ‘Inferno’

A graduate-level James Bond movie, “Inferno” prefers brain power over brawn fisticuffs to save our world.

– Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

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In the third book-to-film of the Robert Langdon Series by bestselling fiction novelist Dan Brown, “Inferno” continues the antiques hunt found in the collection’s earlier works; “The Da Vinci Code” (2006) and “Angels & Demons” (2009). Reprising his role as Harvard Professor of Symbology, Dr. Robert Langdon, Tom Hanks’ character must seek and find a deadly virus before a planet-wide pandemic ensues.

A graduate-level James Bond movie, “Inferno” prefers brain power over brawn fisticuffs to save our world.  With everyone seemingly against him and in hot pursuit, Hanks finds himself towing a young female (Felicity Jones from 2014’s “The Theory of Everything”) through gunfire and rare art museums in present day Italy. The film’s nemesis, a wealthy motivational speaker with bad intentions (Ben Foster), haunts Hanks with unrestrained horrific flashbacks of bloody, dark visions of Hell (Dante’s “Inferno”).

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“Inferno” is a decent, watchable movie. It entertains us with a complimentary blend of Sudoku logic, Where’s Waldo? clues and artifact appreciation.  With a labyrinth of ancient treasure puzzles to filter through, viewers will see a mild resemblance between Hanks’ riddle-solver Dr. Langdon of today and Harrison Ford’s “Indiana Jones” professor from back in the 1930s.

A cerebral sport of cat & mouse played out through such 14th Century relics as the Palazzo Vecchio and the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, bring moviegoers focus more upon the board game than its moving pieces.  And pay special attention to the last stop along this 2-hour big-screen tour: Istanbul’s 4th Century marble-columned Basilica Cistern…the largest of over 700 underground water reservoirs beneath the Turkish city.

Directed by Academy Award-winner Ron Howard, “Inferno” will satisfy most audiences’ tastes for unsolved mysteries using a race-against-the-clock thrills. This film, though, can easily be placed on your “To Rent Later” list via DVD or On-Demand. And many will be just as content to wait even longer for “Inferno” to hit the premium channels or airline inflight entertainment listings.

This film acts merely as a placeholder for superstars Hanks, Jones and Foster–each headlining stronger movies than “Inferno” this year.  Hanks’ September portrayal of “Sully” and the Miracle on the Hudson jetliner water landing will lavish him with better Oscar odds that Professor Langdon’s eccentric personality.  Likewise, Foster dazzled us with his serious actor skills in my year’s favorite film to date –this past summer’s “Hell or High Water”.  But it’s Jones’ as the leader of the Rebel Alliance in the upcoming, stand-alone film “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” that will forever link her name to the George Lucas franchise and sci-fi fans.  All three of these films, more memorable and rewarding than “Inferno”.

Grade: B-

“Inferno” is rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, disturbing images, some language, thematic elements and brief sensuality.  Its running time is 2 hours.

© 2016, Patrick. All rights reserved.



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