What’s always surprised me about Dan Brown’s best-selling Robert Langdon series is that despite being so enthralling with their historical, arty mysteries, it never can perfectly translate to screen adaptations. With three films now in the series—the other two being DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons—you’d think that Ron Howard would have worked out all of the kinks for the series as once again 500 pages are boiled down into a breakneck-speed thriller that is too interested in the spectacles and not the puzzle solving.
In what is certainly the gravest installment, Inferno finds Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) waking up with no memory as he tries to piece together why he is all of a sudden in Florence, Italy and why assassins aiming to finish the job all while a biological weapon is set to eradicate nearly all of human life. Yet despite these elements to make an utterly compelling thriller, much of the doomsday feeling is nonexistent. While it does make one think about the future of our race and how we are growing at an unsupportable rate, the book does a much better job at making it feel as though the apocalypse is nearly at our doorstep.
Attached to him, like always, is a pretty—and much younger—girl. This time around is one of my new favorite actresses, Felicity Jones, who I am currently obsessed with and see great things ahead for her.
Though a brilliant doctor, her character is somewhat underdeveloped in comparison to that of her book. Much of her backstory is completely left out, leaving a husk of a truly interesting character only to have something pretty to look at other than the lush European cities and Tom Hanks if you’re still attracted to him.
The signature Brownian moments are all here; puzzles solved entirely too fast with ample amounts of time and no distractions, city-jumping in the blink of an eye, and everything seeming to be exactly times and precise with no errors. You can question Brown’s work as an author, but you can’t deny there’s something much more satisfying about reading about these adventures than witnessing it on screen.
While most of the film feels a little stale, Hans Zimmer outdoes himself by revamping the signature score from the series with a techno-y beat. Jones and Hanks do what they can, and at times there’s some interesting work. But once again Ron Howard goes through the motions and does exactly what he’s done before; taken the mystery out of books chock-full of them. The only really surprising part of the movie is the ending—which is the exact opposite of how the book ended. There’s still fun to be had, if only at surface level, but Inferno places itself at the low-end of this already-suffering trilogy.