Film: “Inferno”; Director: Ron Howard; Cast: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, Ben Foster, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ana Ularu, Ida Darvish and Cesare Cremonini; Rating: *1/2
Not all novel adaptations are alluring as films, certainly not Dan Brown’s novels.
“Inferno”, Brown’s fourth novel and the third to be adapted by Ron Howard after “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons”, is far from towering. In fact, it is an absurdly mounted mystery thriller that fails to impress.
This Robert Langdon series, featuring Tom Hanks as the Harvard University professor of symbology, begins with a shoddily gummed-up montage that forms the prologue. In one of the early scenes in the pre-credits, we see Ben Foster as the crazed billionaire geneticist Bertrand Zobrist falling to his death from the top of a bell tower in Florence and in one of his public address on the evils of over-population, we are informed that, “Humanity is the disease and Inferno is the cure”.
After the initial credits, we are shown Professor Langdon waking up in a hospital in Florence, Italy with a scar on his head and no memory of what transpired over the last few days.
He, once again, finds himself the target of a major manhunt. Doctor Sienna Brooks, played by Felicity Jones, helps him escape from the hospital and together they travel across Europe, trying to solve the mystery and thereby avert the deadly virus Inferno, which Zobrist had invented, from destroying humanity.
How Langdon uses clues from Dante’s epic poem Inferno and various works of art to track down the deadly virus, forms the crux of the tale.
While the poem tells of Dante’s journey through Hell, guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil, the poem is used in the film as an allegory of Langdon’s expedition and hence fails to deliver the finer nuances of the poem.
Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon is brilliant, but his character is stumped due to the poorly written script. He is aptly supported by Irrfan Khan in a prominent role as the enigmatic Harry Sims; Sidse Babett Knudsen as doctor Elizabeth Sinskey; Omar Sy as her French consort Christoph; and Ida Darvish as Martha.
The script, written by David Koepp with its many tangles of double crosses is convoluted, predictable and lacklustre.
Devoid of tension and any semblance of character development, the film is stuck in cinematic limbo. The dialogues too, without any punchlines, are dull and boring. All the characters have a serious air about themselves and there is never a moment of spryness in the narrative.
Visually too, the first half, packed with snappy edits, is disconcerting to the eye.
Overall, when at the very end, you hear “If you loved humanity or this planet, you’d do anything to solve it”, you feel let down with all the hype of the “Inferno”.