The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019









Inferno (PG-13)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

By Amy Diaz

 Tom Hanks returns as the puzzle-solving, city-hopping symbology professor in Inferno, a lazy-Sunday pickup game Robert Langdon mystery.

I’m not saying they didn’t try with this movie, I just don’t get the sense that they, like, try tried.
Robert Langdon (Hanks) wakes up in a hospital with a head wound and a bunch of strange images bouncing around the professorial noggin — are they visions? Memories? Why do they contain so many references to the works of Dante? And, if the last thing Langdon remembers is being in Boston, why does the hospital appear to be in Florence? Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) explains that the head wound appears to be the graze of a bullet and he is missing a couple of days of memory but before they can puzzle out any more, a police officer (Ida Darvish) shows up and starts shooting. 
Sienna helps the still woozy Langdon escape, taking him to her apartment. After rifling through his mostly bloody personal effects, he finds a gizmo that projects a slightly doctored version of Botticelli’s illustration of Dante’s Inferno. Langdon and Sienna piece together clues in the drawing that lead them to Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), an eccentric billionaire who recently committed suicide and who was intensely interested in the problem of human overpopulation. Zobrist’s Inferno drawing leads Langdon and Sienna to guess that he has created a virus that will “solve” overpopulation by infecting the world and killing some half the population. (Which, based on the information in Zobrist’s own creepy DEAD Talk, wouldn’t do more than kick the population-problem can down the road a few decades but why let internal logic get in the way of a so-so mystery?) 
As Langdon and Sienna try to figure out how to uncover Zobrist’s plan and find the virus, they also discover that they are being followed, both by the shooty policewoman from the hospital (who is maybe working for the American government?) and by a bunch of shadowy types in black vans who are connected to the World Health Organization (or are they?). With officialdom — and unofficialdom, in the form of some organization run from a ship in the Adriatic by Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan) — on their trail, Langdon and Sienna scavenger-hunt around Florence, following Dante clues, in search of a way to save humanity from a new pandemic.
And sure, nobody wants a plague, but it does give Langdon a chance to see his age-appropriate former romantic lady-friend, Elizabeth Sinskey (Sidse Babett Knudsen). She’s a take-charge woman who ultimately picked her WHO career over Langdon and doesn’t really seem inclined to rethink that decision. And, OK, the actress is almost 48, which is still a good dozen years younger than Hanks, but I nonetheless say “hurrah” for the middle-aged suit-wearing lady who gets to be the receiver of longing looks.
Elizabeth is a fun character. Also fun, so fun he feels like he’s from a totally different movie, is Harry Sims, who is a security/fixer-type guy. His weary “guess I’ll have to do it myself” attitude when his agents fail him and he finds out he’s been involved in something he wants no part of is kind of great. So is a scene he has with Elizabeth wherein he suggests they work together, despite her disdain for his clients and amorality. I will totally throw $20 at the Kickstarter for a movie (or, better yet, TNT series!) featuring Elizabeth and Harry reluctantly working together to stop international disasters.
I suspect that movie would be far more entertaining than this one, which never quite revs up, never has the energy of the previous two movies. Sure, all of these Robert Langdon affairs feel fairly silly — there is an “unnecessarily slow-moving dipping mechanism” quality to all of these capers. But Inferno feels both silly and flat.
If anything, this movie is actually a little less cinematic than the book it’s based on. I went back and read my review of the book, which apparently included some more Italian Renaissance factoids as well as an interesting thought experiment that’s lopped off the end of the movie. I understand why, in both cases, the movie edited this stuff out, but as a result Inferno feels sort of thin and empty, like somebody forgot to add sausage and pasta to this stew and we’re left with a lot of cabbage and onions. 
I didn’t expect to love Inferno, to clear out a space on a 2016 top 10 list for this movie, but I did expect to have some degree of fun. Perhaps all the jump cuts and montages of apocalyptic hooey wedged sideways into the “figuring stuff out” scenes were supposed to provide that, but giving me the same headache that Robert Langdon has is not, ultimately, a great way to put the viewer in the movie. C
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, disturbing images, some language, thematic elements and brief sensuality. Directed by Ron Howard with a screenplay by David Koepp (based on the book by Dan Brown), Inferno is two hours and one minute long and is distributed by Columbia Pictures. 

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