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Review: Inferno – “All a bit of an unpleasant mess”

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inferno

The Robert Langdon series (is that what we’re calling this?) has perpetually appropriated the James Bond formula – picturesque international locations, a farcical save-the-world plot, and a revolving door of attractive female sidekicks. The principal difference between Langdon and Bond is that Langdon likes to keep things high-brow; he is not a violent man, he’s an intellectual, and his sidekicks are smart too. So smart is everyone that they like to explain history to each other all the time – a thin veil for keeping us non-symbologist’s in the audience attuned. But what these adaptations of Dan Brown novels need to learn is that just by talking about history and dropping trivia knowledge into conversation doesn’t make your film intelligent. Ultimately, despite its pretensions, this film comes down to a lot of running, a lot of talking, and a lot of boring. They run, they run and then they talk. Then they run. Sometimes they run and talk at the same time. And then they stop and talk out of breath.

The film starts of rather promisingly; Langdon awakes with a killer headache and some pretty intense hallucinations of hell-on-earth. Conveniently for a mystery thriller, it turns out he has short-term amnesia and can’t remember why he is in Italy, what he’s doing with a painting of Dante’s and who shot at him to cause his head injury. But with all the confusion, running, talking, it doesn’t take too long before your eye lids start feeling extra heavy.

Naturally, the film showcases plenty of pretty Italian tourist locations. The Palazzo Vecchio is in almost every shot, and the many museums and basilicas of Florence and Venice feature prominently. But the shaky cinematography in the running scenes (which makes up most of the film) makes one nauseous, rather than contemplative of the view. With the camera trying to relay Langdon’s distorted subjectivity, the audience are mistreated to a lot of ringing sounds, blurry images, hallucinations and flashbacks. It’s all a bit of an unpleasant mess, far more so than The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. Say what you want about those films, but at least they held your attention through relative novelty.

Tom Hanks is one of those actors who seems to do very little between each role but his characters are completely distinct from each other. He makes it look easy. But Robert Langdon is not an interesting guy; attempt to use an adjective to describe his character other than ‘smart’ and it’s likely that you’ll fall short.

This is the worst in the franchise.

1-out-of-5

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