After waking up in a hospital room with no memory of the past two days, Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) finds himself the target of a major manhunt. He then teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones, about to blow up in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) to retrace his steps and solve an intricate riddle to find a man-made plague that could threaten the lives of millions.
Unlike The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, the plot doesn’t mix in with any aspect of religion. It mainly draws references from Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s most famous work, Dante’s Inferno. Instead of a Vatican-related scandal, audiences get an antagonist who attempts to control the world’s overpopulation by his own means. It is probably the first societal issue which Brown weaves into his story as compared to his conspiracy-driven plots from the first two.
The cinematography was impressive, especially with the scenes depicting Dante’s version of the levels of Hell. Coupled with the CGI effects, it captured the distinguishing features of each punishment, which created a realistic example of a nightmare-come-to-life.
All the history packed into the first half of the film was pretty hard to follow, and a lay person like me struggled to understand the discussion between Langdon and Brooks. Granted, the history was essential to the plot, but it could have been simplified to give the audience an opportunity to catch up.
Hanks reprises his role as Langdon, whose action hero seems to have been enhanced in third third installment. The climatic scene at the end had him hitting his head hard three times, but he was somehow still able to wrestle with an assailant successfully. Nice try, Ron Howard. Langdon’s a brilliant professor but brilliance doesn’t mean superhuman.
Langdon’s trademark puzzle-solving skills also seem to be slightly amiss in this film as he struggles with his temporary memory loss. To help with this, Brooks becomes the puzzle finisher, often coming up with the answers to the anagrams and riddles set before them.
Despite being a secondary character, Irrfan Khan who plays Harry Sims, manages to steal the limelight from his fellow co-stars (yes, even Hanks). His eccentric role gave opportunities for him to be the comic relief in an otherwise intense situation, which made for memorable scenes.
Playing the leading lady next to veteran Hanks is no easy task for Jones, but she manages to hold her own without being overshadowed by Hanks. Her quiet and intelligent personality make for a great complement to Langdon, especially when she steps in to act as a translator, reciting her lines in French and Italian effortlessly.
As compared to his previous adventures, this is probably Langdon’s most tiring and confusing trip. But at least he doesn’t have to answer to the Vatican again. If you don’t mind sitting through a boring 30-min history lesson first, you would most probably enjoy this film. Wait for the major plot twist!
Inferno is playing in Singapore now. Tell us your thoughts on the movie!