Sunday, December 04, 2016

'Inferno' Is Another Robert Langdon Adventure Bogged down by Problematic Pacing and Narrative

Inferno is the third movie based on a Dan Brown novel featuring the iconologist Robert Langdon.  Following The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, the filmmakers, for some reason, proceeded immediately to adapt Inferno, skipping The Lost Symbol (the actual third installment of the Robert Langdon series).  It sees the return of Tom Hanks as Prof. Robert Langdon, who finds himself this time around waking up in a hospital bed in Florence, Italy, with no memory of the last few days.  While trying to piece together what he had been up to, he realizes that he’s currently on the path of looking for a bio-weapon that is hidden under layers of clues related to Inferno, the first part of Dante Alighieri’s epic poem Divine Comedy.  With the help of his attending doctor, the puzzle-loving Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), Langdon finds himself on a race against time to stop a catastrophic plague from wiping out most of the world’s population while on the run from assassins and W.H.O. agents.

Personally, I find these Robert Langdon adventures working better as books than movies (at least, as far as The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons are concerned, the only Langdon novels I’ve read).  Though they have some amount of thrills, the previous two Langdon movies were pretty choppy and forgettable.  And Inferno is basically the same thing.  It retains the same messy storytelling as its predecessors.
However, among the three, I think I like Inferno the most.  It’s probably because I haven’t read the book.  Thus, its plot twists really work for me – especially the main one.

The surprises and the somewhat intriguing premise are definitely this movie’s greatest strengths.  If only if the pacing and narrative were less problematic, it could probably have been a solid thriller.

In the end, Inferno is just regularly dull, confusing, and senseless.  It does have some sparks here and there but it just fails to catch fire.  The Robert Langdon franchise is simply not the smart, exciting historical mystery adventure films that it should have been.   It raked in a decent box office profit though, so The Lost Symbol movie will still probably get made whether we care for it or not.

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