Dan Brown is something of a miracle writer. His books, worldwide bestsellers one and all, are simultaneously light, page-turning romps and heavy art-history swamps. True to form, David Koepp has kept both of these elements in his adapted screenplay, resulting in a pacy thriller bogged down by exposition.
Hanks brings his A-grade autopilot for his third outing as Robert Langdon, the John McClane of professors who never questions how the same shit is happening to him yet again. Maybe he, like actor and audience, is used to it by now. The high-stakes plot is engaging without being overly thought-provoking, and the major twist is expertly sold – it’s all in the eyes.
The main departure from the preceding films is the extensive use of apocalyptic hallucination which gives director Ron Howard licence to add to fantastical imagery to the film. This is well realised, a heady mix of brimstone and befuddlement as details swim into focus at the opportune moment. This complements the incomparable architectural beauty of Florence, Venice and Istanbul, which naturally make the film look sumptuous.
The top-billed cast all make solid contributions, but the true secret treasure of Inferno is Irrfan Khan. As the mysterious Provost, head of (effectively) S.P.E.C.T.R.E., his performance is an amusing and thrilling blend of sarcasm, ruthlessness and wisdom. The best thing to come out of Inferno could be the Irrfan Khan action-hero franchise we never knew we were waiting for but have always needed.
It’s no mystery why Inferno works; with little time to question the sense of a situation before the camera is whisked to the next, and leads as charismatic as Hanks and Jones, viewers can sit back and enjoy the journey. It is not, however, as clever as it thinks it is.
CAST: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ben Foster
DIRECTOR: Ron Howard
WRITERS: David Koepp (screenplay), Dan Brown (novel)
SYNOPSIS: Robert Langdon (Hanks) follows a trail of clues tied to the great Dante himself. When Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Sienna Brooks (Jones). Together, they race across Europe and against the clock to stop a madman from unleashing a global virus that would wipe out half of the world’s population.