TOM HANKS GIVES IT HIS ALL, BUT THE FILM IS TOO HEAVY ON EXPOSITION AND SHORT ON ANY REAL THRILLS!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** out of 4
Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones in the third installment in the Robert Langdon franchise, Inferno
You know what’s really sad? When a lot of talented actors and writers, as well as a talented director end up making a lousy movie. Director, Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, In the Heart of the Sea) and Tom Hanks (Apollo 13, Forrest Gump, Sully), two of cinema’s most beloved darlings have had their shares of wins and duds throughout their careers.
Tom Hanks, an actor loved by many for films such as Forrest Gump, Big, and of course the Toy Story movies, and director, Ron Howard for Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and Rush (and even some average movies like Willow and How the Grinch Stole Christmas). But then we get movies like The Ladykillers starring Tom Hanks and the dreaded Ron Howard directed Kevin James movie, The Dilemma.
Tom Hanks and Ron Howard are capable of making a great movie together, they succeeded with the 1995 Academy Award winning space drama, Apollo 13. However, that’s not the case with the Robert Langdon series of movies.
Yeah, you know what I’m talking about, the 2006 thriller, The Da Vinci Code and its 2009 follow-up, Angels & Demons, based on the novels by Dan Brown. While not the worst Tom Hanks or Ron Howard projects and they did bring in money, the films were criticized for being overlong, dull, and inaccurate to the original books, but with that said, you can tell Hanks is trying to work with the script and Angels & Demons is debatably an improvement over The Da Vinci Code.
Well, seven years have passed since the release of Angels & Demons, and Ron Howard gained more success with the 2013 drama, Rush and most recently the documentary, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, not to mention Tom Hanks’ most recent successes like Toy Story 3, Captain Phillips, and Sully. So, they collaborate once again for the third installment in the Robert Langdon franchise, Inferno, as well as the first Tom Hanks live-action film trilogy.
And guess what, it’s four years too late and it’s much of the same, add in recycled plot elements from better thrillers, and you get another Tom Hanks/Ron Howard dud, which is very unfortunate. It’s not horrible, but the film comes off as unoriginal, heavy on exposition over decent thrills (it’s ironic that a thriller doesn’t have that many thrills), and a classic thriller movie cliché, amnesia (Yes, amnesia, what is this, a Da Vinci Code movie or The Bourne Identity?).
The film follows Harvard professor, Robert Langdon (Hanks) suffering from amnesia after a fatal gunshot wound and wakes up in Florence, Italy. When he learns about a plan to unleash a virus called Inferno onto the world and create Hell on Earth, Robert must stop it by using Dante’s The Divine Comedy, with the help of a doctor who gets roped into helping him named Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones-Doctor Who, The Theory of Everything, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as he slowly regains his memories in the race to prevent a “Satanic” global catastrophe.
The film also stars Omar Sy (The Intouchables, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Jurassic World) as head of the SRS team, Christoph Bouchard, Ben Foster (Get Over It, X-Men 3: The Last Stand, 3:10 to Yuma) as scientist, Bertrand Zobrist, Sidse Babett Knudsen (A Hologram for the King, Westworld) as the head of the World Health Organization, Elizabeth Sinskey, Irrfan Khan (The Amazing Spider-Man, Life of Pi, Jurassic World) as Harry Sims, and Ana Ularu (Anacondas: Trail of Blood) as Vayentha.
Overall, Inferno is simply another lousy installment to a disappointing film franchise, and it kills me to say it because a lot of good people are behind it. I respect Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, writer, David Koepp of Jurassic Park fame, and producer, Brian Grazer, co-founder of Imagine Entertainment and their work, and most of their movies are well received, sadly this isn’t one of them.
It’s a generic thriller with a bigger focus on exposition and historical talk and a lack of engaging characters and interesting narratives. Basically this is probably what you’d get if a filmmaker like Christopher Nolan only had like 10 seconds to come up with a movie plot, minus the interesting material.
Usually I save these complaints for M. Night Shyamalan productions, but the middle act of the movie is way too heavy on twists. Literally we get about three plot twists one after another with little development, if they were spread out more throughout the story, it probably would have been stronger, but it was a lot to stomach.
When a character reveals to be an antagonist, a bunch of backstory clips are shown completely out of nowhere, if these were shown maybe as the character is explaining the origin, it could have worked better, but as is, it’s just awkward and distracting. For a filmmaker who is usually known for character driven and emotional film experiences, I really didn’t feel a connection with any of these characters, nobody talks much about how they feel, what their motivations are, not much aside from a few lines.
I really can’t recommend this to the average movie-goer, it’s a confusing mess and a disappointing project from the usually talented, Tom Hanks and Ron Howard. If you’re a fan of the books or movies, you might speak differently about it, but if you want to see Tom Hanks and Ron Howard at their best, skip this, and watch Sully and The Beatles: Eight Days a Week.