Billionaire scientist Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) runs for his life. Chased by two unknown attackers, he ends up on top of a church tower and jumps to his death, intent on protecting something that he doesn’t want to fall into the wrong hands. Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) wakes up in a hospital room in Florence with a bleeding wound on his head and no clue of what happened in the last 48 hours. Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) fills him in about how he ended up there, but is cut short when an assassin barges into the room and almost kills them both. The two manage to escape and stay safe at her apartment, until more assailants arrive and try to take him out. As they run for their lives, he begins to remember, bit by bit, some vague images from the last two days which include a cloaked woman, the phrase “cerca e trova”, and hellish visuals of Dante’s Inferno. Searching for clues all over Italy, he finally recalls the threat of an impending biochemical apocalypse. He is not sure what his involvement in it really is, but he knows he must work fast in a race against time to save half the population of the human race.
If you have seen both The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons and not clearly remember who was who and which was which, it’s because Dan Brown’s novels and their respective film adaptations are so interchangeable thanks to the repetitive plot, you just end up not caring. If anything, what this trilogy has achieved so far is give you an adrenaline rush for two hours as you follow his lead characters run around with stunning montages of Europe stalking them in the background. Think of it as a movie version of the Amazing Race, but with all the religious and historical bullshit supposed to make the narrative more interesting and intellectual. Oops, don’t forget to threaten the world. You always have to threaten the entire planet for more dramatic effect.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I loved the movie, for the very reasons I stated in that previous paragraph. Dan Brown’s stories always start in medias res. Something bad already happened, and it is up to you to put up with Langdon’s intermittent bursts of geeky encyclopedia trivia to discover the truth behind all the drama. Of course, they will not reveal everything in one fell swoop, opting for an Amazing Race kind of gimmick hiding clues in popular European landmarks to assure that you are hooked. What? Langdon loves puzzles. Not everyone does, that’s why someone regularly shoots at them every three minutes so that they are always on the run, leaving you with just enough leeway in between the violence to catch your breath.
How plausible is the global threat this time around, then? Well, half of the human population will die if Langdon doesn’t succeed. That means you have a 50-50 shot at survival. You must root for him, bruh. Otherwise, you’ll die. Unless you are feeling really lucky. But we all know that’s not going to happen. If the story even goes near the vicinity of a parallel universe where Langdon dies, how can Dan Brown write another sequel? So yeah, sorry to disappoint you but it’s always going to be a happy ending until the author retires. But we have to give him props for catching us all unawares.
By “us”, we mean those who have not read the book. I have read and seen both The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. Dan Brown’s MO is always the same. He will throw an infinite number of red herrings your way, making you suspect each and every character as the big bad villain. And then somewhere along the start of the third act, he will suddenly pull the rug under your feet. For The Da Vinci Code, it was rather innovative because it was his first hit. For Angels and Demons, it came this close to being predictable. For Inferno, he went all out. It was a pleasant surprise, to say the least.
Everything is tolerable in the acting department. The twist is unexpected. The movie is still predictable. All in all, Inferno is still a good popcorn flick worth the price of admission. Watch it if you miss Italy and love seeing the world in peril, only to be saved last minute by Robert Langdon Brown and his Messiah Complex. After all, he’s from Harvard, y’all.