“Ghastly, sharp, snaking and bold” – Inferno (Film Review)

Based on the popular books by Dan Brown, both The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons familiarised the world to the dauntless and eloquent symbologist Robert Langdon. Portrayed by the overwhelming Tom Hanks, it’s no wonder that the Langdon franchise has made a lot of individual’s wallets thicker over the years – after all, it’s not many sequels that are as strong as their original counterparts.

Now, with the third offering, Inferno, hitting movie theatres around the world, it has left us all with one question: what on earth has the wily protagonist got left to battle against?

Well, in a darker, grittier format Inferno sees Robert Langdon waking up in an Italian hospital with a torrid bout of amnesia. With the aid of the attractive doctor Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), he aims to recover his memories before he’s shot to pieces by an assembly of government officials baiting for his blood. Upon this hunt they discover macabre intentions from scientific genius Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), who aims to unleash a virus that could wipe out half of the world’s inhabitants in order to ‘save it’ from overpopulation issues.

In typical Dan Brown style, the book’s film counterpart is twisty, contorted and every theory that you collate will be scuppered before the credits roll. Likewise, it wouldn’t be a Langdon adventure without some symbolic references, kindly donated by Botticelli’s depiction of Dante’s journey through hell: Inferno. With this on-board, director Ron Howard has achieved great wonders in creating a nail-biting third contribution to the series, with a couple of added conventions: the film is shot in a much more artistically adept manner, and theme is menacing, intimidating and will cause you to bite your fingernails down to grim stumps from anxiety.

Image: Columbia Pictures
This topic is so harrowing, because unlike the previous two Langdon adventures, the themed threat of human over-population is a genuine concern for the future of our species. Due to this, it’s easy to become conflicted about who you’re cheering on. “But we are destroying the planet. The villain was right” I found myself thinking once the credits started to roll. Inferno is a film that will leave you racking your brains for weeks to come in search of answers for your new and questionable opinions. Perhaps Zobrist was a hero? Perhaps he wasn’t so deluded after all? Personally, I’m still torn.

Acting-wise, the main cast were dutifully chosen to surround the legendary Tom Hanks with a sea of aptitude. Selecting Sienna Brooks in particular was a stroke of genius, due to her adaptable ability to play several roles in one, and her convincing effort to portray a character equally as intelligent as the sharp-witted Robert Langdon. Without this casting the film wouldn’t be the adrenaline-fueled joy-ride that it is, and the gorgeous Florence scenery certainly wouldn’t have appeared so enchanting.

If, like me however, you’re one of those scrupulous individuals who frequently compares the original book to their film equal, then you shouldn’t be too disappointed. For the most part, the film sticks to Dan Brown’s narrative like glue. Yet there is one major change which will cause book lovers to destroy their surroundings in a heated rage: the alternate ending; because that, will kill you. Honestly, I’m still enraged.

To conclude: Inferno is a worthy third offering to the Langdon dynasty. It’s ghastly, sharp, snaking, bold and an equal to the two former films, with a strong cast. Fans of suspense will adore this film, and fans of the macabre will likewise flock towards its grisly Dante-based narrative. For some, the historic undertones will be too much to comprehend, but regardless of the horrendously butchered ending, it was still my cup of tea.

3.5/5

Director: Ron Howard
Screenwriter: David Koepp
Cast: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, Ben Foster
Producer: Brian Grazer
Director of Photography: Salvatore Totino
Music: Hans Zimmer
Country: US
Year: 2016
Run time: 121 minutes

Inferno was released on 14th October (UK)

Comment