When watching a film like “Inferno,” it is important to have the right set of expectations. Expecting an intelligent, well-thought-out thriller will only result in disappointment. “Inferno” is implausible and somewhat cheesy, as were the previous films in the series, based on the popular novels by Dan Brown. Taking that with a grain of salt, however, “Inferno” is a perfectly good escape.
After waking up in a hospital in Florence with no memory of the previous 48 hours, famed symbologist Robert Langdon (Hanks) finds himself at the center of a worldwide race to find the location of a virus that could wipe out 95 percent of the world’s population. Aided by the brilliant Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), Langdon follows a set of obscure clues based on Dante’s epic 14th-century poem “Inferno” to save the world.
“Inferno,” like its predecessors, is best enjoyed in suspension of disbelief. Although the references to classic art and literature give the film a veneer of intelligence, in reality “Inferno” is a basic action movie, entertaining but ultimately forgettable. As long as “Inferno” isn’t taken too seriously, however, it is an enjoyable, visually compelling experience.
Hanks is charismatic as always in his third turn as Langdon, somehow making a man as brilliant as Langdon seem relatable. Jones is solid as Langdon’s sidekick, although her talents feel a bit wasted in the cookie-cutter part. She also takes part in the recent, unfortunate trend of movie heroines running and climbing in heels — surely someone as smart as Brooks would think to pack a pair of flats.
Irrfan Khan turns in one of the film’s best performances, playing the leader of a mysterious security company in pursuit of Langdon. Khan understands the silliness of the film and embraces it, stealing every scene he appears in with clever, understated humor.
Director Ron Howard keeps the film moving at a rapid pace, never pausing to take a break or let the audience think too much about what they have seen. To Howard’s credit, “Inferno,” for all its faults, never bores. The filming locations are beautiful, with the characters jet setting from palazzos in Florence to the canals of Venice and the famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
“Inferno” is not a bad film, but it isn’t great either. Fans of the first two movies, “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons,” will be satisfied with this installment, but moviegoers looking for a meaningful, artistic film should look elsewhere.