Inferno (Review)

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By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
 
Once in a while, art has a way of totally shocking the world or calling into question many of the thoughts and ideologies we’ve held to be true for long periods of time. Mel Gibson delivered The Passion of the Christ, a brutal look into the last days of Jesus, told in all of its visceral and realistic ways. Having the actors learn Aramaic and Latin only added to the authenticity of the time. Then there was Dan Brown’s book, The Da Vinci Code, proclaiming that Jesus and Mary of Magdala were a couple and had children, and this knowledge was kept secret and passed down through the generations. Now, Ron Howard once again takes to the big screen with another of Dan Brown’s books, this time looking in Dante’s most famous book, Inferno.
 
At a Ted-style talk in Florence, Italy, billionaire biologist Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) gives a speech about how the Earth is overpopulated and the destruction that comes from the overpopulation of the planet. Soon after, he is chased to a balcony, where he chooses to jump to his death rather than give up the secrets the people who pursue him desire. Soon after, in a hospital in Florence, Robert Langdon (Ton Hanks), wakes up with a gash on his head and in a state of amnesia. He’s being cared for by physician Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), who is trying to help him piece things back together. Not soon after Langdon awakes, a female assassin named Vayentha (Ana Ularu) enters the hospital looking to kill him. Langdon and Brooks are then on the run, being hunted by an assassin, the World Health Organization, and the local police, as Langon becomes a part of a plot to wipe out humanity. The only way to stop the inevitable death of humanity is to solve a riddle left behind, with the meanings related to Dante’s Inferno. Langdon and Brooks have little time to solve the puzzles and prevent the destruction of humanity. Does a drugged and concussed Langdon have what it takes to save the fate of humanity? The clock is ticking…
 
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Like with the previous two films in the franchise, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, Inferno follows a specific formula. It’s kind of a mixture of Indiana Jones and Jason Bourne with a little Sherlock Holmes thrown in for good measure. If you put all of those together, you have something rather enjoyable and fun to watch. Yet Inferno comes off as the weakest of the three films. Maybe it’s the source material, and if you are not as familiar with Dante’s Inferno, it may be a little harder to build a quick relation to the film. Or maybe it’s the fact that, even though the stakes are high (the extermination of most of the world’s population is kind of a big deal), we never really feel as if Langdon and Brooks are going to fail. One of the big positive aspects from the films in this series is the extensive locations the films take place in: it’s basically a tour guide of what to do in Europe, with free history lessons and extensive video footage for added selling points. And while we know Langdon is going to be tracked and people will try to kill him, we’re aware he’ll succeed in the end, so we just enjoy the free tour of Europe and fun chase sequences, maybe learning a little history, or finding new things to research, along the way.
 
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Hanks reprises his role as Robert Langdon, picking right up where he left off from the previous films. Hanks, now a whole 60 years young, still looks like the same man who began the role a decade ago. Yet, this time around, it feels a little different, as if the energy is a little lower or that he’s going through the process of the character and not necessarily having fun and living it this time around. Jones may not fit the bill of an ER doctor, per say, but she fits the role of the young female lead who always happens to be the type of person whom Langdon finds to help him through his films. Poor guy. Foster, a fine actor in his own right, has a minimized role, but makes the most of it in his brief screen time. Ularu, as the assassin, doesn’t have much in terms of lines, but she totally feels the role of the Terminator 2000 in pursuit at all costs. The rest of the cast plays their roles as needed to further along the plot.
 
The Da Vinci Code was a breath of fresh air, as both a book and a film, fostering discussions and making people research on their own regarding the history of the Bible as we know it. That was a game changer. Inferno, not so much. It has its moments, is enjoyable to watch, has great set locations, and will keep you entertained, yet it doesn’t set itself apart from a number of other adventure style films. How will it do over the weekend? Seeing as it doesn’t have any real competition outside of Jack Reacher, which came out last Friday, it should do fine for a week. That is, until Dr. Strange hits theaters the following week. If you have nothing better to do, feel free to go be entertained for two hours with Inferno. If not, wait until Dr. Strange next week!
 
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Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


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