Inferno: Review


Having visited it a few years back, Florence, Italy has to be one of my favourite places in the entire world. After a week of eating the best pizza and gelato I’ve ever tasted, taking shade outside exquisite architecture such as the Duomo, walking the stunning coastal landscapes of the Cinque Terre (my best day ever) and watching glorious sunsets from the Piazzale Michelangelo, the atmosphere and general friendliness of the city meant that it quickly became a spiritual home for me.

The opportunity to revisit a place that I love, to see it blown up onto the big screen, proved just about enough to get me excited about Inferno, the latest instalment in what’s so far been a forgettable series of Dan Brown adaptations. As it happens, the beautiful location of Florence – Venice and Istanbul also provide plenty of visual splendour – is just about the best thing about this Robert Langdon adventure – but there’s still plenty to enjoy outside of the scenery as well.

Tom Hanks, once again returning as the lead character – frequent collaborator, Ron Howard, also returns behind the camera – is as good as Tom Hanks always is; proving once again that the actor can do no wrong, even when dealing with weaker material. Here, he leads a very likeable cast which includes Felicity Jones, an actress whose star continues to shine brighter and brighter, and a scene-stealing Irrfan Khan who plays a nonchalant assassin.

If the setting isn’t enough to keep you glued to the screen, the cast might just be. But it’s in David Koepp’s screenplay in which the film’s biggest inadequacies can be found, with the writing veering off toward exposition-ville far too often during its middle section. This isn’t necessarily a fault of Koepp’s making, although the screenwriter has been very hit and miss in the past, but rather in the difficulties in bringing a Dan Brown story to the big screen and making codes and puzzle solving feel exciting.

It is Ron Howard who ends up saving the day, as the director manages to craft a genuinely thrilling finale that’s set within Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern. With a number of different players on the board and a ticking time bomb about to explode, it is a traditional, edge-of-your-seat climax which is made all the more tense by Hans Zimmers’ heart-pounding score.

For all of its positives, though, Inferno fails to turn the tide of the Robert Langdon franchise. Enjoyable to a point, this could quite easily be the best of the three films we’ve had so far, and each of the individual elements, especially Italy, work well enough to warrant the price of admission. However, as far as any kind of long-lasting quality goes, this, much like its predecessors, is ultimately a piece of throwaway entertainment that simply passes the time and leaves you thinking that the book is probably a lot better.

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