In Robert Langdon’s third cinematic outing (fourth in book form but let’s pretend The Lost Symbol didn’t happen, shall we?), our intrepid Harvard professor of cryptology, played by the ever-wonderful Tom Hanks, takes on Dante’s journey into Hell, otherwise known as Inferno.
Before we see Langdon, we are introduced to billionaire (is there any other kind?) geneticist, Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), who believes that the Earth’s over-population problem is so unsustainable that something must be done. He is being chased around Florence and eventually up a tower by a group of mysterious government-types, ultimately choosing to jump to his own death rather than give up his secrets.
We soon find Langdon waking up in a hospital room with a head injury and tended to by Dr Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), an English woman who speaks fluent Italian. She explains to Langdon that he has a head wound and has been unconscious for a few days. As he tries desperately to recall how he got from Massachusetts to Florence, his hospital room suddenly comes under attack.A quick-thinking and even quicker acting Brooks fends off the gun-toting assassin and manages to help Langdon out of the hospital and into a taxi back to her apartment where she attempts to help him recall the events leading up to their narrow escape. They soon figure out that he, in fact, is in possession of the biggest clue to the puzzle left behind by Zobrist – a virus that threatens to kill off half the world’s population.
In the meantime, Langdon and Brooks are chased by various groups: Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan) who leads a mysterious underground group of assassins; Elizabeth Sinskey (Sidse Babett Knudsen) – Langdon’s former lover now working for the World Health Organisation; and Christoph Brouchard (Omr Sy) whose loyalties are ambiguous. It is never quite clear as to who is a good guy and who is not. At times, even Langdon is forced to wonder if he is on the right side of the equation.
In this third Langdon film, director Ron Howard once again takes us on a roller-coaster ride around beautiful Italy. Yes, we know Florence is beautiful, full of history, art and culture. Unfortunately, the story is weak. From the outset, you wonder how an intelligent man like Langdon, despite his apparent head wound, could be so unquestioning about the people he encounters. For a man schooled in looking for clues in everything, he seems to be ignoring every clue thrown in his face about who he should and should not trust.
Full disclosure: this is the only Dan Brown novel I have not yet read so I cannot comment on its comparisons to the original story.
Inferno opened across Australia on 13th October and in the US on 28th October.