Considering who swiftly Hollywood cranks out sequels, it’s surprisingly been 10 years since Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code hit theaters. Based on the worldwide bestselling novel, Ron Howard returned to the director’s chair for Angels & Demons only three years after Code. While A&D may have garnered slightly better reviews — absolutely not from this guy — the box office was not as sweet upon Tom Hanks’s Robert Langdon’s return to the silver screen. And now, the third installment, Inferno, arrives seven years after A&D — and too little too late. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more boring thriller released this year. Inferno manages to make The Girl on the Train feel like a runaway freight train.
Billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) has had it with the world’s overpopulation and the World Health Organization is hot on his heels in Italy to stop him from unleashing hell on earth using a manufactured plague. Meanwhile, Langdon is in the hospital suffering from a head wound and amnesia. Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) reacts swiftly when Vayentha (Ana Ularu) tries to kill him while posing as the police. Before you can figure out a Rubik’s Cube, Langdon and Brooks are hiding out in her apartment, where Langdon discovers a Faraday Pointer in his pocket. Soon enough, the two are on the run from everyone trying to piece together the clues Zobrist left behind before his plague wipes out the world’s overpopulation issue.
For all the running and chasing happening throughout Inferno, Howard is barely able to keep his audience awake. If you find yourself dozing off at some point, don’t be surprised. Sadly, not even Hanks is up to par with the material provided. David Koepp may have tried to keep the runtime to a minimum, but even he is above Brown’s source material. When your name is attached to a string of hits such as Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, Stir of Echoes, Panic Room, Spider-Man, War of the Worlds, and Zathura, we try to forgive you for things like The Shadow, Snake Eyes, and even Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The man knows how to inject a sense of fun and energy into a screenplay, so the only real culprit seems to be Brown.
Even Howard is usually better than this. I can’t help but think he was contracted into continuing the further misadventures of Robert Langdon due to his attachment to Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. But all I can say is that after bearing witness to Inferno, we can thank the film gods that he’s not directing The Dark Tower himself. Gone is the heydey when the Imagine Entertainment logo used to mean something: The ’Burbs, Parenthood, Kindergarten Cop, My Girl, Apollo 13, Liar Liar, 8 Mile, Arrested Development. See what I mean? All we’re left with Inferno is another trip to the well, but the well was dry even with The Da Vinci Code.
The only thing audiences are bound to compare this to, is suffering through Dante’s Inferno themselves. Boring, predictable at every turn, and unintentionally hilarious, Inferno is where the buck needs to stop. Everyone involved needs to safely retreat from the Dan Brown business and leave well enough alone.