Sometimes I wonder why people even attempt to turn books into films – sure, there’s been some amazing ‘adapted for screenplay’ examples, but it’s all too often that you’ll hear that “the book is way better than the movie, of course.” Unfortunately it’s that same scenario yet again, as Ron Howard brings us the third film adaptation of a Dan Brown novel – this time, it’s ‘Inferno’.
Tom Hanks is back as Robert Langdon, the well-known symbologist and university lecturer who seems to end up in a lot more danger than you would presume from his job title. Langdon wakes up one day in Florence with no memory of anything recent, and a bizarre recollection of visions that just don’t seem to make any sense. After he gets pursued by a policeman he takes refuge in the house of his doctor, Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), and Langdon realises that something larger is in the works. Worried that the world is in danger from the newly-deceased Bertrandt Zobrist (Ben Foster), who has got such an issue with overpopulation that he plans to wipe out half of the human race, the duo has to locate the threat in the usual limited timescale by solving the usual cryptic puzzles.
Contrary to many others I’m actually quite a fan of Dan Brown’s original book series – they breathe life into the world of symbology whilst also providing a gripping read. Whilst ‘Da Vinci Code’ was probably the best film adaptation of the series (though that’s not much of a feat, given the competition), this one just doesn’t do the book justice. It’s as if all the excitement and the mystery has been sucked out of it – yes, there’s still twists and fast-paced action scenes but they are supplemented with dreary dialogue scenes crammed full of information, and nothing really makes that much sense.
It’s so bad that even Tom Hanks couldn’t save it – Hanks is arguably one of America’s most well-loved actors, and yet he’s completely wasted here. He acts well, as does Foster as the crazy psychopath Zobrist, but it just isn’t enough. Felicity Jones comes across as the most unbelievable, wooden actress throughout and sadly her lacking performance completely detracts from any of the good acting.
I wish I could say that at least it was filmed well, but sadly that isn’t the case either. We’re treated to a rather shoddy beginning that completely overstays it’s welcome, trying to blur our understanding of what is reality and what is just some horrific scene in Langdon’s mind. I get what they were trying to do but sadly it just didn’t work. Some of the less bizarre scenes were so far-fetched that I couldn’t even begin to believe them, from minor faults such as Sienna managing to read almost microscopic letters within a painting from the other side of the room, to the all too familiar scenario of Sienna and Langdon gaining access to all out of bounds areas with ease.
If you want to watch something good with Tom Hanks in, then go for ‘Bridge of Spies’ or take a step into the past with ‘Castaway’. If it’s Dan Brown you’re looking for, then just read the books again. There’s a lot of good ways to spend two hours of your life, but watching this yawn-fest sure as hell isn’t one of them.
Inferno at CeX
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