‘INFERNO’ (2016) MOVIE REVIEW – Robert Langdon Returns….. 7 Years Too Late
It has been 7 years since ‘Angels and Demons’ released…… Was this sequel worth the wait? Well lets find out. ‘Inferno’ is the third film in the Robert Langdon trilogy directed by Ron Howard and is based on the 4th book in the series of novels written by Dan Brown. The previous two films in the franchise have both been financially successful for the studios involved but have received fairly mixed reviews across the board. I am one who actually thoroughly enjoys watching both of these movies as the historical mystery elements i find particularly engaging, similar to those found in the ‘National Treasure’ films. Those elements are still present in this sequel but take a back seat for other plots that are only there to over-complicate the film. The story as a whole is where the film takes the most hits as the overuse of twists and turns was ridiculous, it features many long and rather lifeless exposition heavy scenes, and is paced in a way so that the film isn’t given a chance to build any real intensity. Big name actors do feature, including Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones, but they aren’t really given many compelling scenes over the course of the film.
One of the biggest draws of this film, for me at least, are the sequences focusing heavily on Professor Robert Langdon uncovering the secrets etched into historical paintings, sculptures, and buildings. Watching Langdon figure out these mysteries through analysis of real historical artworks and documents is what i wanted to see be the forefront of the film. But unfortunately it is a poorly written and poorly executed modern day cat and mouse chase (a sub-par version of something you would find in a Bourne film) that takes the focus away from the most interesting scenes that were driving me to see this movie. The scenes i spoke of do exist in the film but in limited quantity, and are isolated mainly in the first and second acts. This modern day mess of a story is very unevenly paced from the beginning to end. It rapidly speed up for short-lived chase sequences and then constantly slows down way too frequently to highlight long-winded exposition scenes that are literally there just to try and explain and re-explain the plot to us. And if these scenes were actually helpful in understanding the film then at least there would be some benefits to them, but they only make the plot even more overly complex.
These scenes are involving characters and relationships that were only very briefly established or hinted at (if that) earlier in the film so you don’t care about them or buy any attachment the characters may have. One subplot is so out of left field in this series it was almost as if there were 3 movies before this one we all somehow missed. The film tries to extend its length, and heighten the suspense and drama in the film through the terrible overuse of ‘shocking’ twists and turns that don’t make any sense. They try to make it look like they had everything figured out from the start with slow, dragging, flashback revelation scenes later on but you can’t buy it because either you didn’t care or know enough about the character, or there was no foundation laid out early on hinting at these events.
David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Spiderman) wrote the screenplay for this film and although he has been a hit or miss kind of guy in the past with his other projects, he really dropped the ball with this script. I mean, the film is riddled with unbelievably poorly written dialogue throughout where some is so forced that it’s almost embarrassing at times. There were so many cheesy lines that just make you sigh, like you don’t know how no-one bought up the fact that the dialogue wasn’t great at any point during production. And the way story is delivered as i mentioned earlier is lazily through long and painstakingly boring dialogue scenes where you gather that the characters aren’t explaining things to each other, they are explaining it to us. Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones though are not at all the problem with this film, they just aren’t given a whole lot of engaging content in the film. They do have some scenes here and there where they display some brief hints of chemistry but then they just go back to running, lots and lots of running.
So in the end, Inferno is a mystery adventure film that will most definitely make you scratch your head, but not in the way you think it will, and not in a good way either. As a fan of the first two films even i am greatly disappointed by the outcome of this film and to be honest, after 7 years, i don’t think this film was at all necessary. There are some aspects of the film that are good though, other than the historical mystery elements, Hans Zimmer’s score was overall well applied to the film but doesn’t stand out like in many of his other composed films. I think after this outing, it is pretty safe to say that you won’t be seeing a fourth instalment in this franchise, and that may not be a bad thing.