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Inferno fails to catch fire

– by Cameron Ironside

Inferno, based on Dan Brown’s 2013 novel of the same name, is a mystery-thriller sequel to The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. The third part of a trilogy, Inferno nearly catches fire. But it never does. The film, if not a carbon copy, feels like a remixed iteration of the previous instalments. However, it is interesting for its cultural symbols, artworks and the historical locations. If you like Renaissance art and Italian museums, then there is much to appreciate.

The film begins with Professor Langdon (Tom Hanks) waking up with amnesia in a Florence hospital, where he is descended upon by gun-wielding assassins. Saved by his doctor Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), Langdon uncovers a mysterious device, which holds the key to solving the riddle of the henchmen. The two then set off on a quest that drives the rest of the film.

Inferno is a mystery-based detective story. While the base concepts are there for an interesting film, the Dan Brown/Ron Howard formula feels a little tired. If it sounds like you have seen this film before you probably have. What’s new – Dante’s Inferno, meaning ‘hell’ (from The Divine Comedy), underpins much of the story. Langdon and Brooks discover Botticelli’s lesser known work Map of Hell, which provides the duo with clues to unravel the mystery.

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Langdon’s knowledge of Dante is critical to uncovering the plot of the villains. He discovers a sinister plot to reduce the world’s population – killing millions of people with an ‘inferno virus’. This pushes Langdon and Brooks on a journey through Florence, Venice and Istanbul. Here, the sculpture of Dante’s ‘death mask’ plays a central part in the plot.

Felicity Jones gives an accomplished performance. However, she is burdened by a flawed and paradoxical character. Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks, you know what you are getting and there are few surprises. Not only are Hanks’ talents underutilised, an ‘action actor’ would have been better suited to this film. The rest of the cast is fine and fills their part without delivering any special performances in this ‘by the numbers’ production.

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Inferno poses the dilemma – murder millions of people or watch the human race become extinct? It’s a reasonably entertaining film that becomes increasingly trite as it progresses towards its flawed premise. The film lacks emotional depth, can be frustrating and at times is wholly implausible. There are plot holes you can drive a truck through. The third act is particularly problematic. All that considered, Inferno is lightweight entertainment and should be treated as such. There’s not much here that challenges the audience. While Inferno intrigues as a cultural-based conspiracy puzzle, it never catches fire as a film. The film is entertaining in parts but fails to ignite a trilogy of diminishing returns.

 

Photo credits: NDTV, Sony Pictures Entertainment, screenrant.com

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