Inferno review: it’s watchable – if you don’t actually think about it
Film review: Inferno

Matthew Turner delivers his verdict on Ron Howard's Inferno, adapted from the novel by Dan Brown and starring Tom Hanks

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Ron Howard’s thriller Inferno is based on the Dan Brown novel, in which academic Robert Langdon attempts to foil a deadly plot by racing around Florence and solving puzzles

Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, Ben Foster, Ana Ularu, Ida Darvish, Paul Ritter
Genre: Thriller
Country: USA
Release date: October 14, 2016
Cert: 12A
Running time: 121 mins

Clearly it’s the season for underwhelming thrillers based on best-selling novels, what with The Girl on the Train last week and now Dan Brown’s Inferno.

Marking the third entry in director Ron Howard’s series of films based on Brown’s books, following The Da Vinci Code (2006) and Angels and Demons (2009), Inferno sees no need to change things and sticks closely to the tried-and-tested formula of pretty Italian locations, puzzle-solving, chase scenes, an international cast and Tom Hanks explaining things.

As such, it’s entirely watchable, providing you don’t make the mistake of actually thinking about it.

After an opening prologue involving bearded bio-tech billionaire Zobrist (Ben Foster) taking a Vertigo-style death plunge off an Italian tower, the film finds renowned symbologist Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) waking up in Florence with a head wound and mild amnesia.

It transpires that Zobrist was a maniac who had built a dirty bomb capable of wiping out half of the world’s population and he’d left a trail of clues to the bomb’s location before he died.

Aided by Doctor Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), Langdon embarks on a race against time to solve the puzzles and defuse the bomb while evading various assortments of armed goons.

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Ridiculously guessable twists and boring puzzles

Hanks gamely goes through the motions, but even his innate likeability as an actor can’t disguise the fact that Langdon is a very dull character, not least because of his penchant for delivering droning museum-guide-style info-dumps at every conceivable opportunity.

Jones adds some much-needed energy as Brooks, though her presence does rather highlight just how set in its ways the franchise is, given that each of Hanks’ co-stars has been a 30-something European brunette.

To be fair, the supporting cast are good value, especially Borgen’s Sidse Babett Knudsen as the exasperated leader of what appears to be a paramilitary wing of the World Health Organisation, The Intouchables’ Omar Sy as her second-in-command and Irrfan Khan as the surprisingly open-minded head of a sinister organisation.

‘A damning indictment of security systems in Italian museums’

Unfortunately, the plot itself is rather dull, with ridiculously guessable twists and boring puzzles that everybody seems to be able to solve, so why they need Langdon is anybody’s guess.

It also builds to an ineptly staged climax that actually tries to wring dramatic tension out of the fact that someone doesn’t have mobile reception (unless that bit was meant to be funny – the film is so nonsensical that it’s impossible to tell), and also serves as a damning indictment of security systems in Italian museums.

Worth seeing?

The cast ensure that this isn’t a total waste of time, but this is a disappointing and derivative thriller that generates precious little heat. Still, at least it’s 25 minutes shorter than its two predecessors.