Well, here’s a movie I almost didn’t recognize.
For those of you not in the know, this is a sequel to the 2006 film THE DA VINCI CODE. This movie’s marketing made it seem like this would be a movie for the ages. It was being advertised almost a year before it came out. I’m not even talking like, it was announced online and green lit, mind you. I’m saying you saw posters of it in the lobbies of movie theatres. I want to believe that most modern blockbusters got that method of advertising from this because I don’t remember this happening before. Sadly though, THE DA VINCI CODE opened to a “meh” reception. It definitely wasn’t as big as the marketing team hoped, or as popular with the fans of the book the movie is based on. I admit, I didn’t see the movie until it came out on DVD. While I sure don’t remember disliking the film, who doesn’t love Tom Hanks or Sir Ian McKellan? But… I can’t say I remember the movie either. Not always the best sign.
But I guess the movie made some decent cash that in 2009, they came out with the sequel, ANGELS & DEMONS… a movie that was definitely not nearly as hyped. In fact, I barely remember it being released. It sort of just came and went. I don’t remember reviews, or anyone talking about it. Of course, this was 2009 and James Cameron’s AVATAR was all the rage that year. While I didn’t see ANGELS & DEMONS when it first came out, in fact, I only saw it a few days ago, it was… solid. I mean, I’m sure there’s a shit ton of creative liberties taken with the historical aspects, but for what it was worth, it was entertaining. And I’m always down with anything featuring Ewan McGregor.
But now a whopping seven years later, a threequel has been released and… yeah, I feel like I’ve seen this movie before. A story about an amnesiac who commits a crime he doesn’t remember committing, on the run from the police with an equally smart young female, wasn’t this one of the subplots to the critically panned THE AVENGERS (1998)? Ew… not the best first impression, but… Hanks is reprising his role and his co-star is the increasingly popular and unbelievably talented Felicity Jones! How bad can it possibly be?
Well, lets take a look at the cast. Hanks… what can you say about the man? From FORREST GUMP (1994) to BRIDGE OF SPIES (2015), this man is a living legend and an acting icon spanning across more than one generation as one of the most enjoyable talents. Not to mention a reputation as one of the most genuinely nice people never hurts. He’s awesome, he’s talented, everyone loves him, moving on. Co-starring is Jones, whose popularity skyrocketed after her amazing turn in the 2004 film THEORY OF EVERYTHING (2014). Not to mention her upcoming film in an itty bitty indie film that no one’s heard of, ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY later this year will net her some serious nerd cred. She’s beautiful, she’s British, I sure have a crush, but more importantly, she’s got mad talent and I can’t wait to see all the collective asses she’ll be kicking in the future.
Now for behind the scenes. Directing is the ever hit and miss genius, Ron Howard, known for IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (2015), FROST/NIXON (2008), and HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (2000). Penning the screenplay is David Koepp, known for JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (2014), MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (1996), and JURASSIC PARK (1993). Returning to the franchise is the ever popular composer, Hans mother fucking Zimmer, known for BATMAN V SUPERMAN (2016), the Dark Knight trilogy, and the Kung Fu Panda trilogy. Finally is the cinematographer, Salvatore Totino, known for EVEREST (2015), the other Da Vinci Code films, and CINDERELLA MAN (2005). He’s also slated to work on the upcoming film, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017).
I can’t say either way if this will be good or bad, but I’m not expecting something amazing. I hope more for entertainment and decent acting. Well, lets get to it, shall we? This is my honest opinion of INFERNO.
Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) has just woken up, originally from Cambridge University, only to suddenly find himself in a hospital in Italy… with head trauma and no recollection of how he got there. He’s aided by a doctor named Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones). But before he’s given any time to collect his thoughts, an assassin named Vayentha (Ana Ularu) attempts to kill him, but Sienna manages get him to safety in her apartment. Soon, Robert and Sienna find themselves caught up in a life or death crisis, as they uncover a sinister plot hatched by a billionaire named Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), who committed suicide a few days earlier protecting his secrets from a government agency trying to stop him, when he created a plague that threatens to destroy half the population of the world.
As expected, I got a movie full of solid performances… but it’s still pretty lackluster.
Let’s talk Hanks, for starters. He does a solid job of portraying a man with mild retrograde amnesia and struggling to make sense of everything that’s suddenly happening to him. He keeps his cool, but he hates being kept in the shadows by his own mind. Jones also reliably delivers a fine performance as a woman trying to help a man in need, but also making the slow discovery of just how dangerous the situation is the deeper in she goes.
Remorsefully though, that’s probably the biggest sin of the movie. Hanks and Jones are just… passable. How do you hire either of these amazingly talents and have them play roles that are just mediocre? The correct answer is, you don’t. You save roles like this for actors on the rise who need exposure, but not Oscar noms. Maybe it doesn’t really matter, considering Hanks is so high profile that he can be in a worse movie and still have serious pull, but still. All these characters really do is talk and explain shit. True, some exposition is needed in order to know how to get from point A to point B, but when that’s all there is, it becomes tedious, not just to listen to, but to watch. Why? Because you’re watching… talking. Um… FILM-MAKING TO THE EXTREME, BRO!!! What masterful brilliance in utilizing boredom to progress the story. It’s like watching THE DA VINCI CODE all over again, except no cool mystical ties to ancient stuff. Descendant of Jesus? Come on now. So… not nearly as cool.
While I give the movie credit that the opening visuals of Robert seeing the world in Hell are pretty spectacular, it’s only in that first fifteen, twenty minutes and barely ever revisited. Not to mention, it made very little sense in the long run. I know he lost his memory via a drug injected into him, but how does that translate to seeing the various levels of hell in the city streets? I could go into this more, believe me, there’s a lot to complain about, but… it doesn’t feel like it’s worth the effort anymore. Maybe the films of the previous week have still taken its tole on me and I’m reviewed out. I’d rather save my efforts for DOCTOR STRANGE (2016).
Summed up, not the worst movie of the year, not even really… bad, but it’s definitely not good and probably not worth seeing. If you’ve invested time into this franchise, maybe it’ll do you some good, but this series should probably call it quits. I don’t know how many of these books there are, but if there are more, Howard and Hanks should probably skip it himself.
My honest rating for INFERNO: a weak 3/5
And that’s all for this week, kids. But keep an eye out for the next wave. It’s going to be a doozy.