By Christian DiMartino
Burn baby burn, Dante’s Inferno…
I’m a few days late on reviewing Ron Howard’s Inferno. That’s my bad. It really is my bad though, because the movie tanked at the box office. Perhaps had I reviewed it it would have beat Madea’s Boo. It’s a sad world we’re living in, where both Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks can’t beat a Madea movie.
Inferno, like its predecessors, was torn to bits by fellow critics. But I, however, am a different breed. Personally, I had a good time at both The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, and have never really understood the backlash. Yes, they’re preposterous and overlong. But they’re richly entertaining, which is the goal, and feature some glorious set pieces. The same can be said for Inferno. Basically, if you hated those films… chances are, you’ll hate this one too.
This third Howard/ Tom Hanks/ Dan Brown collaboration finds Hanks’ Robert Langdon waking up with amnesia (which may leave some viewers jealous). He’s told that he’s had a gun-shot to the head, and that he’s been mumbling some stuff. He is told this by a Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), who soon goes on the run with Langdon (another woman on the run with him. Hmm) after people start shooting at him.
Along his journey, he continues having these hallucinations of hell, which leads to the actual story of the film. One interesting aspect of Inferno is that its main villain, a deranged millionaire played by Ben Foster, dies within the opening minutes. Before his death, however, he often discussed how there are simply too many people on earth, and that something horrific must happen so then something great will happen. An interesting though… if you’re bats**t insane.
But thus soon Langdon and Brooks discover that said millionaire plans on unleashing a deadly virus that could wipe out half of Europe. Question is: where is all of this going down? The answer to that is left through clues involving Dante’s Divine Comedy, and so the two of them set off to stop this virus while also fighting against those set out to kill them.
A film like Inferno asks you to suspend disbelief, and if you’re capable of doing so, a good time will arrive. Honestly, would a mad genius really go to these lengths? Why would someone leave behind clues a deadly outbreak? Why wouldn’t they just set off the virus without telling anyone? I’ll tell you why: because then, my dear, there would be no film.
But I’m glad there’s a film, because Inferno is fun. It’s better than The Da Vinci Code, but a notch below Angels & Demons. It’s a great looking, thrilling and entertaining movie that feels lighter than its predecessors. It also has some great last minute twists… that probably don’t completely add up when given complete thought. But hey, they’re fairly surprising in the moment.
All of this is sold beautifully by Hanks, Jones, and Co. Howard also manages to make these locations pop, along with the great cinematography. Inferno is probably what one would consider an “in-flight movie.” But man would that flight fly by. I hope that the box office doesn’t kill the chances of a 4th film. This probably wasn’t a film that everyone was clamoring for… but in a year filled with sequels that haven’t quite stuck, I think you could do a helluva lot worse.