INFERNO – Review by Susan Granger

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Director Ron Howard and actor Tom Hanks have previously collaborated on The Da Vinci Code (2006) and Angels and Demons (2009). So what happened to their adaptation of Dan Brown’s thriller is a mystery. This time, renowned Harvard art historian/“symbologist” Robert Langdon (Hanks) gets mixed up with a villainous billionaire, Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), who is determined to reduce the world’s population by unleashing a sinister super-virus as an apocalyptic plague. But Langdon doesn’t know what’s happening when he awakens in Florence, Italy, in a hospital room. He has amnesia, plus a nasty cut on his head. At his side is Dr. Siena Brooks (Felicity Jones, whose two front teeth, unfortunately, resemble Chiclets). Read more…

Soon, they’re both on the run, relentlessly pursued from Venice to Istanbul by an assassin (Ana Ularu), dressed as a Carabinieri and employed by enigmatic Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan) from a covert security company, along with Elizabeth Sinskey (Sidse Babett Knudsen), director of the World Health Organization, who once had a romantic relationship with Prof. Langdon.

Alluding to Botticelli’s painting, depicting Dante’s conception of Hell, the film consists of a series of prophecies, visions and trippy hallucinations, peppered with extended chase sequences, searching – in vain – for a coherent plot.

The clumsy script by David Koepp (“Jurassic Park”) is rambling and disjointed, and Ron Howard’s direction is consistently chaotic.

One sequences has Langdon and Brooks darting through Florence’s Boboli Gardens, eluding a drone, before darting into the Palazzo Vecchio to track down Dante’s death mask. Then they’re off to examine the horses atop St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.

The climax is set in Istanbul’s subterranean Basilica Cistern, built in 532 during the reign of Emperor Justinian I. Film buffs may recall that James Bond rowed through it in “From Russia With Love.”

Finally, adding insult to injury for fans of Dan Brown’s best-sellers, the conclusion was changed because, according to Howard, “it wasn’t cinematic.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Inferno” is an inane, frenzied 4, fumbling the franchise.

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