Dan Brown is never shy of facing controversy. Not only has his fourth book—The Da Vinci Code—been criticized for its portrayal of Christianity, but also he has been accused of plagiarism by Lewis Perdue. As a result, the 2006 film adaptation got banned in several countries including Egypt and India. The sequel, Angels and Demons, is no different.
I always love a good mystery. That’s what I got in both of these movies. Director Ron Howard has directed two of the most ambitious movies of his entire career. Inferno, the latest Dan Brown adventure, is certainly no exception.
Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is back. This time, he wakes up in a hospital in Florence, Italy, with amnesia. He keeps seeing visions of hell, and later teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones). They learn about billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), his lecture on Earth’s overpopulation, and how his virus—based on Dante’s Inferno—will serve as his resolution. They begin to race against time through Europe to end the catastrophe while a security company—led by Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan, Life of Pi)—is after them.
Sadly, Inferno is the weakest of Robert Langdon adventures, but it’s nowhere near as bad as people make it out to be. It has several bumps in the road. While Hans Zimmer’s score keeps the suspense going, it does lack the powerful choir from the previous two films. It had a rough start with the choppy editing. Once the mystery comes into play, I became invested in what is going on. It’s hard to deny Tom Hanks’ presence as Langdon; he plays out as if he knows his studies. Like his performance in Sully, he’s the smartest man in the room.
Filmed on location in Florence, Venice and Istanbul, there are times in which Inferno feels like a travelogue than an actual film. Its love of history connecting with the mystery fascinates me. There is something in David Koepp’s screenplay that rubs me the wrong way (spoiling it would be truly unnecessary). Thanks to Ron Howard’s direction and the camerawork by Salvatore Totino, Inferno still has the thrills, twists and turns that made the two predecessors so enjoyable.